Fam Trip in the Maremma Tuscany: cultural, bicycle and gastronomic itineraries

What is the best way for a travel agency to get to know a new territory, its nature, history and traditions? By participating in authentic activities that reflect the local aspects in all their diversity.

This is exactly what we at Italian Special Occasions did for several American agents visiting the Maremma for the first time, in collaboration with our partner BiciEvent. The aim of the Fam Trip was to allow the agencies to explore this beautiful, off-the-beaten-track area of southern Tuscany, that is still quite unknown abroad.

There wasn’t much time at disposal, but one day was enough for the agents to appreciate and fall in love with this land that stretches between the typical Tuscan hills, a WWF-managed lagoon and the crystal-clear Mediterranean Sea. 

The Fam Trip was divided into 3 themes: culture, nature and gastronomy

The “Hints & Bits of Maremma” itinerary led the group to the enchanted Tenuta Marsiliana, a castle with a borgo (hamlet) owned by the Corsini’s, a princely family from Florence. Sabina Corsini, whose 1,000-year-old family of popes, princes and Renaissance bankers has long owned estates in Tuscany, guided the tour around the property, explaining its history and its relation with the territory. The visit ended with a wine tasting session to savor some of the delicious wines produced from the surrounding vineyards. 

Next, the group visited the charming medieval town of Capalbio, located on a panoramic hilltop that dominates the Maremma countryside up to the sea. The agents were able to admire this landscape from the ancient crenelated walls that surround the historic center. 

The “Salt Lagoon” route demonstrated the beauty and importance of Maremma’s nature and eco-systems. The agents rode lovely vintage bicycles to discover the WWF-managed Lagoon of Orbetello and its surroundings. Paola, the guide, explained that many rare birds migrate and nest in these waters, such as the pink flamingo and the white heron. She also spoke about the flora, the history and the origins of the lagoon. The American travel agents were also accompanied by Luciano who, with his funny and typical Neapolitan accent, encouraged them not to give up after the 1st km of cycling!

After these exciting and energy-consuming activities, it was time for a gastronomic session at an unusual restaurant. Located right next to the lagoon, ‘I Pescatori’ serves fresh fish captured in the morning by its own cooperative of anglers. It specializes in local delicacies, such as the Bottarga di Orbetello (salted grey mullet roe), and organizes tastings of local lagoon products… a unique way of experiencing the Slow Food movement!

Are you planning a corporate event, destination wedding or special occasion in the Maremma or in other unique locations around Italy? Let us guide or help you with our expertise and network across the boot! Contact Italian Special Occasions now

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Join our movement: seasonality & educated tourism in Italy

At Italian Special Occasions we are happy to present our own Seasonality Map, which highlights the best seasons for visiting different regions and enjoying activities in an eco-friendly, more affordable way. This allows you to avoid mass tourism, tourist traps and clichés… join the movement for a more educated tourism!  (Click on the map to enlarge it in a new window)

We are also pleased to launch our new concept called “Italian Events, for your special Occasion”. Why not combine your celebration, vacation or business meeting with unique cultural events that take place in Italy? This will create an authentic experience and great memories for your special occasion!

For example, if you are planning a summer event in Italy, you can increase your ‘wow factor’ by allowing your guests or customers to witness one of these cool regional celebrations:

  • Joust of the Quintana, Umbria/Marches – A spectacular jousting tournament held in the towns of Foligno (June, September) and of Ascoli Piceno (August). This medieval tradition is enriched by original costume parades of knights on horseback, ladies, valets, drummers and trumpeters.
  • Feast of Santa Rosalia, Sicily – In July the town of Palermo celebrates its Patron with a solemn procession, live music and bands by the streets, and a beautiful firework display.
  • Festa de’ Noantri, Lazio – The heat of July does not scare Romans away from the folkloristic celebration in honor of the Beata Vergine del Carmelo (Our Lady of Mount Carmel). Traditional dances and music, Carnival floats and fireworks light up Trastevere, one of the most characteristic neighborhood in Rome.
  • Giochi de’ le Porte – Umbria: In September, the town of Gualdo Tadino hosts ancient games including a Palio, a race on donkeys (without the saddle), and an archery competition. Local delicacies are not to be missed!

Planning a last minute event in the Bel Paese? Here is our spring treasure trove for your special occasions:

  • The Night of the Pirates, Tuscany – Ahoy! In April and early May a thrilling scavenger hunt and ship race take place in the sea village of Porto Ercole.
  • Palio dei Balestrieri, Umbria – A Medieval crossbow contest and costume parade ignites the locals in Gubbio and Sansepolcro. Held in May.
  • Aparagus Festival, Veneto – Bassano del Grappa celebrates its white asparagus, protected by the DOP trademark, with a delicious food festival in April and May.

Join Italian Special Occasions in the quest for a more eco-friendly, less touristy approach to travel and event organization in Italy!

Contact us to learn more about our services or to receive a customized quotation for your special occasion in Italy, be it a wedding, family & friend reunion, corporate and golf event, or foodie trip!

Italy office tel: +39 366 527911      
UK office tel: +44 20 3289 9140    
 
Email: info@italianspecialoccasions.com

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Unique and typical Italian wedding favors: food, arts and crafts

Are you looking for that cool souvenir that will add the final, unforgettable touch to your wedding in Italy? At Italian Special Occasions we have quite a few ideas, and we would like to share some with you!

If you like arts, in particular paintings, we work with talented Italian artists who can recreate the landscape or venue where your wedding takes place. For example, Francesca Napoletano creates beautiful watercolor paintings using a mixed technique. She specializes in urban settings, and some of her works are exposed in the Italian Ministry of Economy, Yemen’s Embassy and Canada’s Ministry of Communication. 

If you prefer less classic but more modern and alternative approaches, Laura Villarosa prints hypnotic digital images on cotton canvas stretched on a wood chassis. She currently lives in Brazil and collaborates with Cynthia Fidalgo.

Artisans can also reproduce picturesque Italian landscapes on rustic terracotta pots, plates and boxes. If you would like to give your guests a gift that not only represents but also embodies the local experience of the area where you get married, you can consider typical artefacts. For example, if you are getting married near Faenza, opting for local ceramics is ideal, just like Murano glass jewels or décor comes natural if you tie the knot in Venice (read more about Faenza Ceramics).

Italy is a foodie paradise, so you cannot go wrong with local delicacies from all around the boot. Your wedding favor could be a genuine product from an organic farm, such as extra virgin olive oil or a fine wine. And – of course – you can capture the delicious essence of the territory where you get married in your favor: customized chocolate in Umbria, Modena balsamic vinegar in Emilia Romagna, liqueurs such as limoncello in Campania, and so on!

If you choose wine bottles or jam jars (or similar) as favors, you can have your labels customized by artists like Georgina Hoby Scutt, who specializes in the creation of delicate and original vintage designs. 

Another idea is to capture your loved ones in beautiful photos and portraits in the location where your special event takes place. Talented photographers like Julia Hernandez, who specializes in destination weddings and children portrait photography, can take gorgeous shots of your guests!

Would you like to find out about even more wedding favors from Italy? Or do you have an idea that you would like to turn into reality? Contact Italian Special Occasions for a customized service, designed for you!

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Friend reunion in Sicily: culture, golf & gastronomy

Spring time is the perfect time to visit Sicily, and a group of friends from the United States took advantage of this wonderful season to organize a fun trip and meet up in the Mediterranean island. And who did they contact to plan and follow their unique experience? Italian Special Occasions

We have asked Elizabeth, the group leader, to share some anecdotes about the trip.


Years ago, I studied and graduated in an American university in Rome. Ten years later, while chatting online with some old colleagues from the senior class, I came up with the idea of organizing a friend reunion. We had all been back to Rome different times after our studies, and decided that it would be nice to meet somewhere different, to enjoy the Italian spirit but with a new twist. We opted for Sicily: very few of us had been there, and we were all interested in exploring this promising island. 

A group of 13 ex classmates joined the initiative. We contacted Italian Special Occasions to help us plan the trip, to suggest and book some cool activities and properties for us to enjoy in Sicily, and to provide us with local support. We were all extremely happy with the service and with everything we were able to experience…

…starting from the local culture! All of the island breathes art and history, from the ancient temples to the Baroque and medieval buildings. Something unique that really surprised us was the possibility of staying and sleeping in a traditional ‘dammuso’, basically a house carved in a grotto in Modica, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. That was quite authentic!

We also loved Catania and Siracusa. The first one mixed great architecture from different times in history, with a modern and dynamic vibe; while the second town offered two gems: the one and only Ortigia Island, and the limestone cave called Ear of Dionysius… simply beautiful!

We wanted to try something different during our trip, something active yet relaxing. Italian Special Occasions suggested we try golfing, and we gladly took up the challenge. Three people in our group were already expert golfers, and they enjoyed two different 18-hole courses at Donnafugata Golf Club near Ragusa. For the rest of the group (including me), a special group lesson for beginners was organized at the local driving range. It was really a lot of fun! The weather was warm and the landscape was so charming!

Finally, no trip to Sicily (or Italy in general for that matter) would be complete without a culinary immersion. We ate in the best restaurants, from fancy ones to simple rustic taverns, and even enjoyed street food in Palermo – the panino alla milza (bread with spleen) was a real surprise. But the cherry on the cake was the cooking lesson in a characteristic agriturismo near Mount Etna, where we learned how to create local delicacies with fresh products, followed by wine tastings and a tour along the Etna Wine Route. There is something about that volcano, its products and its friendly inhabitants that made the trip to the area particularly exciting.

So, our alumni reunion was just beyond our expectations. We were able to remember the past, to celebrate the present, and to also to get new ideas for the future... we will be definitely contacting Italian Special Occasions for other special events and for discovering the most different side of Italy.

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The Great Beauty: amazing locations in Rome

In 1999, Italy won the Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film with Roberto Benigni’s “La Vita è Bella”. Fifteen years on, it triumphed again at the prestigious Academy Awards by winning with “La Grande Bellezza” (The Great Beauty), directed by Paolo Sorrentino.

The movie is a visually stunning drama that follows an aging socialite called Jep Gambardella (played by a super Toni Servillo), who lives in Rome and – following his 65th birthday party – crosses different bizarre characters around the Italian capital, reflects on his life and on his sense of unfulfillment. 

The Great Beauty, which has also won other awards like the BAFTA and the Golden Globe as Best Foreign Film, has divided Italian and foreign critics for the way it depicts the Roman elite and lifestyle, igniting some lively discussions – especially in Italy. But whether they love or hate the movie, everyone agrees on one thing: the true and undeniably beautiful protagonist is the city of Rome and its magical locations, both famous and unknown

You can observe Jep Gambardella stroll through the romantic Piazza Navona, the iconic Via Veneto from Federico Fellini’s La Dolce Vita, the Capitoline Museums and the Baths of Caracalla. The protagonist’s home is set in a stunning attic on Piazza del Colosseo, offering breath-taking views of the Colosseum, of the Imperial Forum and of the Circus Maximus.

But what has touched and surprised most watchers is the way with which the movie captures some sublime aspects that are often invisible to most tourists, uncovering a secret Rome.

So let us have a look at this Treasure Trove that could be the itinerary for an authentic movie tour around the historic capital!

Fontana dell'Acqua Paola - Also known as Il Fontanone (the big fountain), this is the set for the opening scenes of The Great Beauty. The monumental marble fountain is located on the Janiculum Hill, from which you can enjoy panoramic views of Rome.

Palazzo Spada – This historic building features a beautiful garden facing the Tiber River. Also, in 1632 Cardinal Spada commissione the Baroque architect Francesco Borromini to refurbish it. The artist created a masterpiece of forced perspective in the courtyard: with the optical illusion you will think the gallery is 37 meters long... while in reality it is only 8 meters long!

Villa del Priorato di Malta – Locate on the Aventine Hill, it is home to the Grand Priory of the Sovereign Military Order of Malta, and it also hosts the embassy of the Order of Malta to Italy. It is famous for the small keyhole through which you can admire the dome of Saint Peter’s Basilica at the end of a magical tunnel of cypresses.

Palazzo Braschi – Featuring a baroque-neoclassical architecture, this palace is located near Piazza Navona. It houses the Museum of Rome, covering the period from the Middle Ages through the nineteenth century.

Tempietto di San Pietro in Montorio – This “small temple” is a martyrium (or commemorative tomb) built by Donato Bramante in the early 1500s. It is considered a masterpiece of High Renaissance Italian architecture.

Villa Medici – This architectural complex is located on the grounds of the Villa Borghese on the Pincio Hill. Since 1803 it hosts the French Academy in Rome. It has spectacular gardens that largely preserve the aspects of the XVI century.

Parco degli Acquedotti – This public park is named after the aqueducts that cross it, including the Aqua Felix and the Aqua Claudia. It appeared in the memorable opening shot of La Dolce Vita, and offers an equally striking setting in The Great Beauty. 

Salone delle Fontane – The main movie poster depicts Jep Gambardella sitting on a marble “bench”, located in the Salone delle Fontane (EUR district), a monumental masterpiece created by Gaeano Minnucci in the early 1940s for the Universal Exposition. But beware! The majestic statue in the background is a photomontage: you will find Marforio’s Roman statue in the Capitoline Museums.

In conclusion, whether you love or hate the movie, La Grande Bellezza has the merit of interpreting a marvellous cinematographic promenade through secret Rome… come discover it with Italian Special Occasions! Contact us for a customized quote

 

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