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Fran Meyers

Westbury, New York Travel Agent

Italy Off the Beaten Path

Italy is a favorite destination for many of my clients. One of my specialties is creating beautiful itineraries for people who have already seen the iconic sites and cities of Italy. I often suggest that they visit small towns like Cortona, one of the medieval hill towns of Italy—featured in Francis Mayes book 'Under the Tuscan Sun'—with amazing panoramas of the surrounding fields and vineyards from its city walls.

Parma another small town, is great for foodies. As its name suggests, it known for its Parma ham and parmesan cheese; I can arrange for tastings and a personal visit and tour with an artisan cheese or prosciutto producer. The town itself is impressive as well. It’s also the birthplace of Toscanini and opera lovers enjoy seeing performances at Teatro Regio. Not to be missed is the cathedral in the main square, with its distinctive pink marble and Correggio’s 16th century fresco, “Assumption of the Virgin”.

Italy is an easy country to navigate on your own. GPS works well here, signs are in English and the two-lane routes are ideal for slowly taking in the scenery. And to really live la dulce vita, I love to work with Private Villas of Italy to arrange for stays in private villas. They can arrange for chefs, porters, taxis and special experiences in the area such as truffle hunting, wine tastings and boating excursions. I recently visited Villa Bellagio, located on Lake Como, and still in the hands of the aristocratic family that lived here for decades. The villa ideal for a family or friends reunion, with its own pool and space for up to 20 guests, and on-site staff are available to prepare breakfast and lunch or dinner daily and other assistance. And that is just an example of the very special villas available around Italy. I always suggest spending at least four days—a week is better. That way you have time to become a familiar face at the local cafe or bakery and become fully immersed in each place you visit.

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