We are happy to share the story behind some of our latest site inspections, to show how an incentive can and should be organised off the beaten path. As you know, at Italian Special Occasions DMC we are committed to promoting cultural and heritage tourism for Corporate and Private Events. Ours is an ongoing project that involves numerous site inspections and constant trips around Italy. These allow us to see, test, taste and select the best venues and authentic activities – which we propose to our clients in a way to create experiences based on culture and traditions, respecting the locals without transforming the destination into a touristy attraction with a staged or artificial atmosphere. But let’s pass from the theory to the practice!

Incentive in Venice: go “beyond” to discover the event destination

Our potential clients were interested in planning their event in Venice which – along with Burano and Murano – is among the most visited tourist attractions and requested event destinations. But, since staying here with a group of 40 or 50 delegates is a logistical nightmare and very expensive, we suggested a different way to discover the destination and making the event unforgettable. How?

We set off with our clients to explore Treviso, the city that we proposed for the stay of their delegates. This beautiful city is strategically located so that they can easily reach Venice and other surprising destinations, such as the Prosecco area and the Palladian Villas by navigating the Sile River. The choice of event venue is not limited to a hotel but includes the majestic Renaissance villas scattered in the countryside. Our client companies were charmed by the grace of this city which is overlooked by many… but not by us! We love the colourful medieval streets with elegant palaces, porticos and original 13th-century frescoes, which are just some of the delightful features of Treviso.

Our next stop was in the Cartizze vineyards where the most refined and prestigious prosecco is made (Conegliano Valdobbiadene Superiore di Cartizze). The area is like a postcard, with nothing to envy from Tuscany’s famed hills: our clients were amazed to see the vertical vineyards and to learn that locals can only harvest by hand! Our itinerary in the area included delicious restaurants for a panoramic lunch, fine Cartizze wineries where we tasted Prosecco, and visits to the beautiful villages that dot the area, like Asolo and Feltre.

To understand the history of Venice – what it was once and what it is today – we proposed and embarked on a wonderful boat tour around the islands of Murano and Torcello, where the famous city originated before expanding to the other side of the lagoon. For our clients, one of the highlights of this experience was the stop at the Museum of Glass, where they witnessed the ancient art of glassblowing, and learned about its history and the importance of preserving the original technique. They recognized and appreciated the authentic vibe here, as opposed to the touristy “Rio dei Vetrai” which we do not recommend visiting, because it is just as artificial as Las Vegas.

Our site inspection itinerary included a stop in Venice for lunch, while we had dinner in Torcello. This is a peaceful island with the amazing Cathedral of Santa Maria Assunta that is… 1400 years old! From its bell tower we enjoyed a superb, 360-degree view of Venice.

Incentive near Milan: Franciacorta and Lake Iseo

Why did we select and propose Franciacorta as an event destination off the beaten path? There are three main factors. The first has to do with logistics and its location near an international airport and important railway station. In fact, when our clients joined us for the site inspection, they realized that it is only one hour away from busy Milan. The second is tied to one of its products of excellence – wine. But not just any wine, it is quite particular as we will see in the next paragraph. And thirdly, we chose it due to its proximity to the beautiful Lago d’Iseo, where different activities can be organised.

When visiting the territory and its wineries, our clients discovered that the local high-quality viticulture is determined by the rich soil of morainic origin and that, although relatively unknown globally, Franciacorta is widely regarded as one of Italy’s finest sparkling wines! In fact, Franciacorta is also the name of the wine with DOCG status produced from grapes grown on the hills of this area.

We took our clients to the best place where to learn about the history of this great wine: the Guido Berlucchi winery! This is where they discovered that the first bottle – a Pinot di Franciacorta – was born in 1961, thanks to the partnership between the young ambitious winemaker Franco Ziliani, who wanted to produce wine the way the French do in the Champagne region, and Guido Berlucchi, a nobleman who lived in the sixteenth-century Palazzo Lana and already produced a white wine that had to be improved (Pinot del Castello). In this authentic place, which is now owned by the Ziliani family, our clients could breathe the history of the Lana Palace and meet passionate winemakers who also have a great sense of hospitality. The winery is also perfect for corporate events because if offers meeting and conference spaces for up to 250 delegates.

Apart from wine tasting, some other team building activities that we have conceived and tested in the Franciacorta area include:

  • Hiking in the “Torbiere del Sebino” Nature Reserve, which was declared a wetland of international importance and is considered a priority area for biodiversity in Lombardy.
  • Biking along the Vineyards of the “Strada del Vino Franciacorta” (Franciacorta Wine Route). Wine and bicycles unite people, nothing better for team building!
  • A sensory experience with Grappa, another excellent local product. Thanks to our internal coach Noemì Freixes and our innovative team building exercises, your delegates can go beyond the normal wine tasting and discover a product that few people think about.

Located between the more famous and larger lakes of Como and Garda, Lake Iseo is little-known internationally and often overlooked as an event destination. Yet, it offers a glorious setting that dazed our clients. Despite its vicinity to industrial cities like Bergamo and Brescia, this lake retains its natural environment with lush green mountains surrounding the crystal-clear water. There are also small medieval villages around it. In order to keep its authenticity, this area must be visited and handled with much care. That’s why we propose it as destination for incentives with small groups of 20 to 40 delegates.

When exploring Lake Iseo with our clients, these are some of the activities that we proposed for their incentive and organised for the site inspection:

  • Biking and Yoga on Monteisola, which is the largest lake island in Italy. We think that an e-bike tour is perfect to visit its small villages, ancient frescoed churches, the impressive “Rocca Martinengo” medieval castle, and to admire splendid views of Lake Iseo.
  • A boat ride around the islands, it’s simple yet divine. Nature offers the WOW effect and the small villages seen from the water have a magical atmosphere.
  • Hiking around the hills of Lake Iseo, where there are many trails with different levels of difficulty, so that anyone can enjoy the walk in nature.

Outcome & Conclusion

We are happy to share that different clients confirmed their incentives in Italy off the beaten path: they chose the abovementioned itineraries after participating in the site inspections that showed them the benefits of choosing Treviso or Franciacorta for the stay, and of exploring the territory between vineyards, lake and lagoon with authentic activities.
How can we help you with the planning of your incentives and team building in Italy in 2020? Fill in the form below or contact us here with your ideas or doubts, so that we can work on a proposal that is tailored to your needs.


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