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The Best Travel Agents for Europe

The A-List is Travel + Leisure's annual selection of the world's best travel agents and destination specialists, as chosen by the editors.

Italy: Matteo Della Grazia & Daniela Mencarelli

This Perugia-based husband-and-wife team makes it their mission to create rich cultural journeys grounded in Italian traditions. Unlike most advisors, they’ll organize day trips as well as multiday vacations. Best for: culture buffs, foodies/epicurean travelers, families Extras: The duo’s expertise extends to Italy’s many islands, so think of them if you’re interested in traveling to destinations like the Aeolians, Pantelleria, Ischia, and Elba. Minimum daily spend: $450  


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Perugia in a Day: With a Little Help From Our Friends

Fuoritinerario: Discover Your Italy is a boutique tour company owned by Matteo Della Grazia and his wife, Daniela Mencarelli. "A friend in the travel industry introduced us to the couple who arrange bespoke, individual and small group experiences throughout Italy, enabling visitors to “discover Italy,” based on their personal passions." Matteo and Daniela organize a perfect day trip to Perugia, and made the group feel like “insiders” rather than tourists no wonder Fuoritinerario means  “off the beaten path.”  


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Three (unrelated) families: One vacation

Sarah wanted to go to Spain, but that was soon abandoned and decided to go to Italy with her family. “Discover Your Italy” set up a day trip from their house in Sorrento, complete with a driver and a guide and a walking tour of Rome, which included visits to the Vatican, the Forum, the Colosseum, and the Palazzo Valentini museum. The company provided guides who spoke excellent English and procured VIP tickets, which meant no immense entrance lines.


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Italy’s isle of Sicily

Discover Your Italy can arrange culinary and cultural itineraries to Sicily: here there are a number of hotels that make for good bases for exploring the island. At the top of the line there are two Belmond hotels both located in the northeastern coastal town of Taormina: Belmond Grand Hotel Timeo, next to the city's Greek theater, has been a favorite of visitors to Sicily since the 19th century and Belmond Villa Sant'Andrea is in a converted 1830 villa with an oceanfront view. The Planeta Estate, where Chef Angelo Pumilia holds his classes, is nestled among vineyards near the southern town of Menfi. The hotel is a convenient location for exploring Agrigento. In Ortigia, the ancient center of Syracuse, where you can see sites from a Greek temple and Baroque churches along the waterfront, the Algilà Ortigia Charme Hotel is a good value offering modern four-star comforts in two converted Baroque palaces.


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8 Experiential Vacations for Foodies Who Want to Go Deep

If you want to do an experiential cooking activity on your trip, Italy is the place to visit. Take tours such as Discover Your Italy’s food valley tour, where you can visit a famous producer of Culatello di Zibello, as well as visit parmesan cheese and balsamic vinegar producers and cook using the ingredients. And if truffle hunting is your jam guests at Il Castelfalfi in Tuscany can choose to forage for truffles in the natural reserve with a self-guided map, or tap into a local expert  who will guide them on the adventure. There’s also a harvest tour every year in Puglia, where guests can harvest their own olives, then take them to the mill, watch them being crushed, and leave with a tin of extra virgin olive oil they helped make. Another great pick: The Northern Italy Cooking School allows students to make pasta, visit a rice producer who is using the same machines as when the factory was established in 1648.


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Boozy Honeymoon Destinations for Those in Need of a Post-Wedding Drink

Italy is an incredibly romantic honeymoon destination, but it can also be really fun if you want to spend a week or two buzzed out on wine. Take a Tuscany wine tour with customized tour company Discover Your Italy but there's also similar tours of areas such as Florence, Frascati, and more. If in Milan, you are a quick hour drive from Franciacorta, home to the famous Franciacorta sparkling wine. There's tours available there as well.


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Take Off With These Private-Jet Trips of a Lifetime

Discover Your Italy is taking Italophiles on the whirlwind trip of their dreams with its 15-day Grand Tour of Italy by Private Jet experience. Priced from about $17,000 per person, the fast-paced itinerary will have travelers cruising Italy’s Lake Como at sunset one day, and touring the Verona Arena the next. Additional stops include the Amalfi Coast, Tuscany, Sardinia, and Sicily. Experiences at every stop are customizable, regardless of whether you fancy a gourmet lunch in Padua, a boat ride in the famed Grotto, or a tour of the Mt. Etna volcano.


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“Extreme Jet-Setting: 6 Insane Trips You Need to Fly Private For.”

Flying commercial on your vacation? News flash: That’s so last year. Jet tours, as in you and a few others in a private jet with a laser-focus mission, are arriving at mach speed in 2017. Discover Your Italy’s Grand Tour of Italy : Led by Italian in-the-know pros, hit all of the country’s most popular destinations (plus some off-the-beaten path, too), from Lake Como to Capri, over 15 days. And what’s unique is you can choose to go when you want—that means you can have that jet all to yourself. FYI, with this tour, you better love sailing on the high seas as much as you do hailing a private jet. Itinerary highlights: A boat tour to visit stunning Italian islands you’ve never heard of…Borromean Islands; sailing around Lake Como—say ‘hey’ to Clooney for us; hiking Cinque Terre trails plus a sunset cruise; vineyard tours and tasting in Moltacino wine country; full day excursion on the island of Capri; a jeep trek on Mt. Etna Volcano; play time on the white sandy beaches of Sardinia. Cost: Starting at $16,400


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Get Festive in Italy with Five Italian Christmas Markets

Fuoritinerario – Discover Your Italy is a boutique travel tour company that has a long history of of find off-the-beaten path opportunities. They have in depth knowledge of Italy and have offered to provide details on five Italian Christmas Markets.

These five Italian Christmas Markets provide tourist that chance to experience the rich culture of Italy. Enjoy great tasting food and drinks, plus a variety of products and souvenirs to purchase: Sant'Agata Feltria (Emilia Romagna) this medieval town is also known as Il Paese del Natale (the Christmas village). The market square hosts Santa’s home and lots of fun activities for children organized by the elves; Candelera (Pesaro) is the first Italian Christmas market dedicated to candles. During the celebration all electric lights go dark at fifteen minute intervals and the town glows only with candle light. Visitors can also wander through the town’s traditional Christmas market; Bolzano (South Tyrol) is the most renowned town in Italy known for hosting the country’s largest Christmas market or mercatini di Natale; Aosta (Aosta Valley) the Marché Vert Noël turns Aosta‘s Piazza Caveri into an alpine Christmas wonderland with twinkling lights, glimmering decorations, and adorned Christmas trees and Manarola (Cinque Torre) hosts one of the most beautiful and original nativity scenes in the world – The Presepe di Manarola – with over 15,000 solar-powered light bulbs and 300 characters made from recycled or unused materials.


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This Is the Best Hike Through Italy We’ve Seen Lately

Italy Hiking Discovery, a new 16-day multicity adventure through the Italian splendor from Discover Your Italy Tours, taking reservations now. Yes: it’s a big, long trip. But there’s so much to see. We’ll give you some of the highlights below, and ways to prepare:

In the Amalfi Coast, you’ll... Take a private boat to the island of Capri, take a quick swim, visit hidden grottoes, climb the Path of the Gods to sniff out hidden caves. Get ready by: Figuring out what a cave smells like.

In Rome, you’ll... Explore the ruins of Pompeii, have lunch at wine estates, crane your neck up at that Sistine Chapel. Get ready by: Taking neck yoga classes. In Chianti, you’ll... March through vineyards, poke into countryside hamlets, drink wine made at an all-female vineyard, sleep in a castle. Get ready by: Bingeing on Game of Thrones. In Liguria, you’ll... Hike up the craggy five-mile Cinque Terre, learn the secrets of good pesto, have a pleasant encounter with a waterfall. Get ready by: You were born ready.


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