Seamless Culturally Infused Travel to Italy with USTOA Tour Operators

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Venice, Italy. (Photo by Dan Novac on Unsplash)

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Want to make sure your client’s vacation runs seamlessly? It’s simple: Work with a United States Tour Operator Association (USTOA) member, says Terry Dale, the association’s President and CEO.

“During times of crisis—pandemics, natural disasters, even political upheaval—tour operators are uniquely positioned to assist their guests to ensure they return home safely. In times of uncertainty, the tour operator members of USTOA enable consumers to travel with confidence,” says Dale.

He lists the 6 benefits that coming with booking with a USTOA tour operator member (and that’s aside from taking a lot of the workload off your plate): Your client’s trip is protected via the association’s $1 Million Travelers Assistance Program; the association’s members follow a strict set of health and sanitization guidelines, the TOURCARE Guidelines, specifically for tour operators; if unforeseen problems arise, a tour escort, local host or representative is always there to assist travelers; savings for your clients as tour operators buy in bulk and negotiate special rates for accommodations, transportation, meals, and more; a varied and flexible range of tour options—from solo travel to honeymoons; and access to hidden gems you won’t be able to find online.

USTOA Tour Operators Put the Spotlight on Italy

USTOA tour operator members immerse travelers in the world’s most breathtaking landscapes and deliver unparalleled culturally infused journeys. Here we highlight five tours that put the focus on Italy.

Imagine your clients basking in all the delights that Tuscany has to offer. With CIE Tours’ 8-day Tuscan Treasures with Cinque Terre journey (running through November 2024) the imagined becomes reality as your clients set down their bags in the historically significant town of Montecatini Terme—home to restorative baths dating back to Roman times—and set off to enjoy a private dinner at Fattorio thil Poggio, an agriturismo farm that embodies the spirit of sustainability; go truffle-hunting; and go sightseeing from Pisa—with its famed Leaning Tower—to Cinque Terre, a string of five picturesque fishing villages perched on the Italian Riviera, accessible only by train and hiking trails.

Tauck’s 8-day Tuscany, Cinque Terre & the Portofino Coast tour (running Sept to Oct 2024) immerses your guests in the part of the world with an array of singular experiences, including a pre-opening, private visit to Basilica di Santa Croce; a walking tour of the historic center of Florence; an after-hours visit to the Uffizi Galleries; a hands-on Italian cooking lesson with local chefs; and olive and wine tasting in the walled city of Lucca. Additionally, guests will spend two nights along the Italian Riviera at an elegant hotel that was once a private villa.

For active clients who want to explore Italy (and Sicily) on two wheels, VBT offers the 7-day Italy: Sicily, the Noto Valley & Syracuse Guided Biking Vacation (dates available starting in April 2025). Highlights include exploring baroque Scicli with a local guide, venturing outside the city to the lovely Noto Valley, joining the hotel chef for a hands-on demonstration of Sicilian cooking; touring an organic beekeeping farm in the canyons of the Iblean upland. This tour is rated easy/moderate. The rides are on paved country roads, mostly rolling, with little car traffic. On two days, a short shuttle takes guests up a hill, allowing them to ride along a crest and then downhill. The roads are good but in some rural areas, the terrain is uneven with a few potholes.

For a classic Dolce Vita-style vacation, recommend Globus’ 7-day Amore!: Italy by Design, which will take your clients from Rome to Florence. Highlights include visiting Rome’s magnificent Santa Maria Maggiore Basilica and ancient Roman archaeological area, plus a tasting of nevicata (“snowfall” gelato); following a local guide in Spoleto to the most important sites of the life of Saint Francis, from Santa Maria degli Angeli to Assisi, and from L’eremo delle Carceri to San Damiano; and in Florence, taking in all the legendary landmarks. Also included is learning about the ancient tradition of perfume making at the Officina di Santa Maria Novella, a centuries-old institution founded by Dominican friars in 1221 and a visit to the Ferragamo Museum, dedicated to the shoemaker-turned-designer Salvatore Ferragamo.

For art, food and wine lovers, Collette rolls out the red carpet with its 12-day Italy’s Treasures tour. Clients will veer off the beaten path to the Alpine Lakes region, snake along the edge of the sea to the medieval villages of Cinque Terre, board off-road vehicles to explore the marble quarries of Carrara, where Michelangelo obtained the marble for his statue of David, and relax during a 4-night stay at a Tuscan villa. Highlights include learning the art of creating Tuscan cuisine during a hands-on cooking class at a family-owned villa; exploring Florence and Venice; and taking an optional cruise to Isola Bella, known as the “beautiful island,” where clients explore the Borromeo Palace, a lakeside Baroque beauty adorned with an exotic garden, and visit a family-run wine shop and enjoy a cocktail party with some antipasto snacks.

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