Italy. What do you think of? Can you feel the soft white sand between your toes, see the rolling countryside, or smell the fresh crisp air of the mountainous ski slopes…or do you imagine tasting the iconic food and wine whilst listening to a live jazz band? Either way, Italy has a diverse mix of experiences for all the senses. It is arguably one of the top places to host incentives, as not only does it boast beautiful scenery, but it offers unique and interactive activities for delegates too.

Whether it be sightseeing Roman ruins, jet skiing, or simply exploring the picturesque scenery of Italy – there is plenty to enjoy. It is a county of vivid colours, gastronomic experiences, emotionally-rich music, immersive smells and local artistry. In each region there is the opportunity to explore Italy in the five senses through traditions and heritage, which has the capacity to make the event more powerful and memorable.

In 2015, London & Partners and CWT Meetings & Events commissioned a study about sensory events and surveyed approximately 600 event professionals. About 78% of respondents believe that by incorporating more senses into an event, the event can deliver more memorable and creative experiences. However, only 27% of respondents felt that the five senses are being used effectively at events.

This is a guest blog post by Roxanne GarbettVenue Consultant at venuepotIn this post she reveals how a place such as Italy can really engage with the five senses and enhance a delegate’s experience and enjoyment.

Sight

The region of Campania is one of the most captivating and unspoilt areas of Italy. It’s been attracting visitors since the Roman era, with Naples, Amalfi Coast, Pompeii, and Sorrento as the most popular destinations. Surrounded by high mountains, the coastal towns of the Campania region are untouched, with a timeless appearance, despite the tourism.

Key places to see: 

Ischia – This volcanic garden island is the most developed in the region. It is a fascinating mix of stunning scenery, such as woodlands, vineyards and charming small towns. The beaches are also impeccable.

Sorrento – Resting upon the cliffs that separate the town from its busy marinas, Sorrento is known for extensive water views and its café-lined square, Piazza Tasso. It also looks out onto Mount Vesuvius, which is a somma-stratovolcano located on the Gulf of Naples.

Pompeii – Here you can see the glories of ancient Rome, which was preserved in ash by the eruption of Mount Vesuvius centuries ago. It is one of the world’s most absorbing archaeological experiences.

Taste/ smell  

If you haven’t tried the culinary delights of Italy, you must, and if you have only ever tried Italian food in your home country, start saving money to book a flight to (and a restaurant in) the country itself. I’ve managed to, with difficulty, narrow it all down into some kind of category system…

Seafood

With an abundance of coastal marina towns, there is ample opportunity to try fresh seafood that has been caught that very same day. For example, in Tuscany, the coast on the Tyrrhenian sea it is part of the Mediterranean area. Here the local seafood consists of seabass, octopus, clams, mussels, sardines, anchovies, prawns, lobster and sole to name a few.

All the rest…

Everything in Italy, if you’re in the right place, is produced freshly and made to order. It tastes incredible: from pasta, to pizza, olive oils, bread, meats and cheeses. Their pasta is cooked al-dente (how it should be) and is made fresh on the day. Pizzas are always topped with the finest Italian cheese and meat, and they are usually cooked in a proper Italian open, wood-fired pizza oven. Cheese is sourced locally – Sicilian Mozzarella is possibly the tastiest mozzarella you will ever eat. Bread is fresh and for the gluttonous. Need I say more?

Wine

There are 20 different wine-making regions in Italy, so delegates would be spoiled for choice. Between one wine region and another, there are differences in the taste and quality of the wines they produce. Wherever you decide, there are plenty of chances to go wine tasting!

Sound

Delight in the sounds of the opera in the country that invented it and, for an audio experience like no other, head to the city of fair Verona. The Arena di Verona is Verona’s most famous monument. Built in the first century (AD 30), it is one of three large amphitheatres in Italy, the other two namely the Colosseum and the amphitheatre of Capua. The arena in Verona, however, is still in use today and is famous worldwide for the outstanding opera shows performed there.

It is considered to be one of the best conserved ancient structures of its kind and its oval shape produces perfect acoustics from every area in the arena. In ancient times, nearly 30,000 people could be hosted in the arena. However, due to security and health and safety obligations, the maximum capacity is now 15,000 people.

Performances used to happen in the centre of the amphitheatre, and this area would have been covered in sand. Shows such as gladiatorial combats were held here, and the sand would have been used to absorb the blood of gladiators and animals. Now, the theatre stage is at one end of the arena and, in an elliptical fashion, the audience face the stage.

Arena-di-Verona-at-night, Italy Five Senses

Touch

In the Lazio region there are a copious amount of natural hot springs (terme) – a natural cure to relax and restore the body and mind. The open countryside where various hot springs have been left to their own accord attract locals and sit in the middle of the countryside, a landscape that can’t have changed much since the Etruscan era of the 4th century.  It is an adventurous and atmospheric alternative.

However, if your guests were more suited to the luxury and haven of a spa, there are options. In Viterbo are the natural hot springs of Bullicame, known since ancient times, and there is a thermal spa complex on the site, called Terme dei Papi (Spa of the Popes). A range of treatments are offered, or you can pay a charge simply to use the facilities and bathe in the waters, which emerge at over 40 degrees.

Above all, make the most of what this country has to offer – wherever you decide to go!

Pictures by drp