Archive for the ‘Italy Tours’ Category

We pick our favorite Fall tours – Pt 1.

Thursday, September 15th, 2011


FallThe first day of Fall is September 23 (it’s so close, but so far away) and with that comes different scenery, cooler temperatures, and less crowds in all of your favorite or soon-to-be-favorite cities. Take advantage everything that comes with Fall by traveling! And boy, do we have the tours for you!

I asked the office what tours would they recommend for Fall traveling.

The Boston Tour by Bus is awesome in the Fall. You get to see the Fall changing of the leaves, the scenic area of Boston, and all the wonderful history the city has to offer. We can even see the Fanueli Hall and Quincy Marketplace.” – Janice

“I loved the Savannah Foody Walking Tour which is a great tour in the fall. There is a lot of Savannah history given by your tour operator and then you get to sample some great foods from the various restaurants and eateries in the area. Some of the locations even give you samples to take home! The samples are good portions and you’re full after your done. So you get great food, history and exercise all in one!” – Theresa

“For this time of year, the New England Seacoast is the best place to be. In only the months of September & October, there are fall foliage tours from Boston to the Cape or up the New England seacoast to Kennebunkport. I always arrange private tours for my groups every year for their Boston Experience. I say the Fall Foliage tours are the best tours for the fall. My groups always love them.” – Amber

Emerald Necklace and Fall Foliage Bicycle Tour in Boston
Bear Mountain Fall Foliag Cruise from New York City

“Italy and Tuscany in particular is spectacular at this time of year…the weather is beautiful, the summer rush is over and Italy is magical in as the evening begins. There is just something that soothes your soul to watch a sunset in Tuscany.” – Carolyn

Private Tour of Pompeii, Positano, & Almalfi Coast from Naples Italy
Chianti, Tuscany Excursion from Florence, Italy
Medieval & Renaissance Walking Tour in Florence, Italy

Look for Part 2!

- Kris

Masquerades & Festivals in Venice

Wednesday, August 24th, 2011

Wine Tasting Program

“The surface of Venice is constantly metamorphosing [and] painting Venice is almost like being a restorer, peeling off the layers to find the picture after picture underneath.” ~ Arbit Blatas

Venezia, also known as La Serenissima – The Most Serene, is the city that ironically floods twice a day with the rising water level and grand architecture of the sinking buildings, and was the heart of art and commerce during the Renaissance. Venice is home to many year-round festivals & masquerades.

Cheers to the new year with the Regata delle Befana – The Witches Race. Imagine a race in a boat with ONE oar with competitors dressed up as witches on the misty waters of the Grand Canal. Now that is a sport I would watch.

The famous Venice Carnival begins about two weeks before Ash Wednesday and ends on Shrove Tuesday (Fat Tuesday / Martedì Grasso). Experience the colorful masquerade balls & costume parties that took place in 18th century, beginning as a celebration of expression and wearing masks to hide the identity between social classes. Venice will explode with color, music, art, performance, dancing, and acrobatics. International costume & fashion designers will also present awards for the best masks of the Venetian Carnival.

“Venice is like eating an entire box of chocolate liqueurs at one go.”
~ Truman Capote

The Venice Biennale is a major contemporary art festival held every two years, on odd-numbered years. It begins in June and ends in November. Art, architecture, music, dance, theatre, and cinema all have exquisite exhibitions. The 54th Venice Biennale began on June 4th and will continue through November 27th, 2011. From the mediocre to the eccentric, the festival is an incomparable feast for the senses and art in all of its monstrosity and glory. In fact, there is so much to do that you may have a sensory overload.

The Venice Film Festival (Mostra Internazionale d’Arte Cinematografica) is also a part of Venice Biennale, and is the oldest film festival in the world. This annual event occurs in late August or early September on the island of the Lido, with screenings held in the historic Palazzo del Cinema. The coveted Golden Lion is awarded to the best film of the festival, and the Volpi Cup awarded to the best actor and actress. The 68th festival is scheduled to take place from August 31st to September 10th, 2011. Luci, Camera, Azione – Lights, Camera, Action!

If you are new to Venice, unmask the true beauty of this mysterious, charming city on our Hidden Venice Walking Tour. Leave the hordes of tourists behind, and discover the Venice of your dreams. And your trip is not complete without a romantic Gondola Serenade Tour – this tour also offers a dinner option of a delicious 4-course meal with drinks included at a local resturant. Venice Tours will make your trip to this famous lagoon a truly magical experience.

I stood in Venice, on the Bridge of Sighs;
A palace and a prison on each hand:
I saw from out the wave her structures rise
As from the stroke of the enchanter’s wand:
A thousand years their cloudy wings expand
Around me, and a dying Glory smiles
O’er the far times, when many a subject land
Look’d to the winged Lion’s marble piles,
Where Venice sate in state, thron’d on her hundred isles.

I loved her from my boyhood; she to me
Was as a fairy city of the heart,
Rising like water-columns from the sea,
Of joy the sojourn, and of wealth the mart;
And Otway, Radcliffe, Schiller, Shakespeare’s art,
Had stamp’d her image in me, and even so,
Although I found her thus, we did not part;
Perchance even dearer in her day of woe,
Than when she was a boast, a marvel, and a show….

~ Lord Byron

When In Rome…

Tuesday, August 16th, 2011

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I came. I saw. I conquered. I took amazing tours. And got fantastic pictures! Rome is the capital of Italy, and its history spans two-and-a-half thousand years. Roma die uno non aedificata est – Rome was not built in a day. So take your time to explore this incredible, historical city. Don’t worry if you get lost in what to do during your visit… Omnes viae Romam ducunt – All roads lead to Rome.

Great balls of fire!!! Do you dare to explore the cryptic remains of the catastrophic eruption of the volcano Mount Vesuvius from 79 AD? The eruption completely buried Pompeii, but out of the ashes many incredible ancient artifacts, buildings, frescoes, and eerie body casts have been excavated. Our Amalfi & Pompeii Private Tour will take you into the heart of Pompeii, and also to the picturesque Amalfi Coastline – the most famous drive in all of Italy!

Travel to the outskirts of Rome aboard a motorcoach bus to visit two gorgeous villas, one from ancient Roman times and another from the Renaissance period, on our Historic Tivoli Bus Tour. Your first stop was a villa used by Roman Emperor Hadrian as a retreat from the Roman Palace. Your second stop is the Villa d’Este, built by Cardinal Ippolito Il d’Este in the 16th century.

Finish your day off with our Rome by Night Tour with Dinner, Drinks & Music! Seeing Rome after the sun sets and the city is magically illuminated must be where the term “Romantic” originated. You’ll discover the city’s renowned monuments, piazzas, fountains and architecture. Then, you’ll go to a local restaurant to enjoy a delicious Italian meal complimented by local wine, while you are entertained with traditional Italian music and songs played by folk musicians. Evviva! Be sure to explore Rome Tours for the greatest selection of top quality tours and activities for your visit to the Eternal City. Book online and save, or call us toll free for assistance. We look forward to providing you with excellent customer service!

The Forcola

Monday, August 15th, 2011

Chocolate Gifts from

Ladies and Gents,

The forcola. If you ever want to go to Venice, there are some things you should know… for example, that Venice is covered in water. But everyone knows that. Everyone knows about the gondola and the attractive (hopefully) Italian man in a striped shirt guiding you through the streets of Venice, but do many people pay attention to the forcola?

It’s arguably one of the most important pieces to your romantic trip in a Venetian gondola. It’s the carefully-crafted rowlock that is used to prop the rower’s oar and helps control the gondola. It’s a beautiful little thing that is constructed out of a quarter of a trunk, that is seasoned, carved, and finished.


Italian Frescoes and why it’s best to learn

Thursday, August 11th, 2011

Wine Tasting Program
As you know, we have two resident bloggers at Alcatraz Media — Lauren and me. I was reading Lauren recent post about Florence. When I saw that mentioned the Fresco Tutorial Tour in Florence.
My eyes grew wide when I found there was a workshop like this in Florence. I was in Florence, only for a day, but I would have jumped at the opportunity to learn more about frescoes.

To really enjoy art is to also have some understanding of how it was made. Many Italian Renaissance artists painted frescoes, so to enjoy Florence, especially, is to really appreciate the art of frescoes.

A real fresco is called buon fresco which is just pigment crushed into water on a thin layer of fresh lime mortar or plaster. Fresco secco, though very fun to say, is done dry plaster and uses a binding medium like egg, glue, or oil. There is also fresco secco on top of buon fresco, which is cool too if you’re into that kind of thing.

Here is just a few of my favorite frescoes, why their noteworthy to me, and where you can find them:

One of the best examples is, of course, Michelangelo’s work in the Sistine Chapel in the Vatican. The Last Judgement may be one of the most frightening and awe-inspiring things I’ve ever seen.

He also painted the Sistine Chapel ceiling which means he covered over 5,000 square feet of frescoes, and that’s buon fresco. Michelangelo was the man.

My all time favorite is Fra Angelico’s Annunciation. It’s located in a corridor of the San Marco convent in Florence. I didn’t get a chance to see it, but would have sold my sister to. It’s perfectly located that when you look at it, the sun’s light looks like it’s in the fresco.

Massaccio’s The Trinity is located in the Santa Maria Novella in Florence. The fresco is known to be one of Massaccio’s finest work. A lovely example of chiaroscuro, the fresco brings a depth that only the best Renaissance artists can do properly.

Renaissance artists reignited the passion for the arts and curiosity in science, and to learn about frescoes or even see one of their frescoes will be understanding one of the world most important cultural revolutions.

If you’re ever in Florence, try this workshop. Knowing the artists and the medium in which they convey their messages will make your trip to Italy like you’re in a completely different world.

Firenze… che bella città!

Tuesday, August 9th, 2011

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Florence (Firenze in Italian) is the capital cityof the Italian region of Tuscany, and iswell known as la bella cittá, meaning “the beautiful city.” Florence is the city to fall in love, explore the incredible art and architecture of the city, and live life to the fullest. And gelato should be involved in there somewhere too.

If you are new the the city, I would recommend the Evening Introduction walking tour to learn the layout of the city and see many popular landmarks with an expert local guide. Begin the walk in the late afternoon, when the city tends to be a bit calmer, with the potential for a gorgeous sunset during your explorations. Your guide will talk about everything from art to architecture, food to festivals, and everything in between. This Florence tour also provides the opportunity to go over any logistical questions (using the public transport system, buying stamps, etc.) and pick your Florence guide’s brain for local favorites for dining, drinking, shopping, and special events.

Next, grab a friend and hop on vintage Italian Vespa scooters for our Ice Cream & Wine Tasting Tour in Tuscany! Explore the gorgeous landscape without the restrictive itinerary of a bus or car. Your experienced guide will take you along the rolling hills and valleys of picturesque Tuscany. Enjoy tasting more than 140 different types of wine, sample tasty pork and cheese products, as well as Chianti, Grappa, Vin Santo, Olive Oil, and homemade ice cream. Delizioso!

If you’re interested in learning how some of the world’s greatest artwork was created, then it’s back to the drawing board for our Fresco Tutorial Tour in Florence Italy. This interactive workshop provides both an informative lesson in the history of fresco and a hands-on experience with the materials and techniques of fresco creation. This is a Florence travel experience not to be missed! Whatever your interests are during your visit, Florence Tours is the perfect place to make your vacation dreams a reality. Ciao for now! ;)

Rome for the Holidays & New Year’s in Venice

Friday, December 17th, 2010

REMINDER- Father's Day Sale

Spending the winter holidays in Italy is an experience you will never forget! While Italy does not boast all of the flashing multi-colored lights, the plastic Santa Claus & reindeer displays, and commercialization of the United States, you will treasure many other fond memories in Italy that cannot be duplicated anywhere else.

Rome Illuminated at Night

View Rome Illuminated at Night

In Rome’s famous Baroque square, visit the Piazza Navona Christmas Market where you will find stands selling all kinds of Christmas sweets, toys, nativity figures, decorations, and gifts. Kids can enjoy the merry-go-round and the chance to meet Father Christmas. Be sure to see the famous Christmas nativities of the Santa Maria Maggiore museum and the Church of Saints Cosma and Damiano. Get your picture next to the enormous Christmas trees of Saint Peter’s Square, Piazza Venezia, and next to the Colosseum. Rome’s main streets are decorated with lights and often have entertainment by traveling musicians and vendors selling delicious roasted chestnuts. Enjoy an outdoor ice skating rink that is set up near Castel Sant’Angelo. And on Christmas Eve, share in a special Midnight Mass with the Pope in Saint Peter’s Square! When in Rome, be sure to take the fantastic Rome Illuminated Evening Bus Tour to enjoy the magical atmosphere created by the romantic holiday lighting.

Enjoy a Gondola Ride in Venice

Enjoy a Gondola Ride in Venice

Then ring in the New Year with the charming bells of Venice! The architecture of the waterways and the open spaces promote a sensational experience as the sounds of the beautiful bells resonate on New Year’s Eve. The bells are sure to bring a smile to your face and send shivers through your spine as they ring out to announce the masses and the start of the New Year. Many restaurants in Venice have feasts on New Year’s Eve that continue through midnight. Saint Mark’s Square hosts a huge celebration with music, a giant fireworks display, bellini brindisi (toast), and lots of group kissing at midnight. On New Year’s Day, many bathers take a chilling dip in the waters of Venice’s Lido Beach! I would recommend the Grand Private Tour of Venice Italy to experience Venice off the beaten track to discover the Venetians. Navigate along the Grand Canal on a private boat with your guide. You will also visit a genuine Murano glass factory and visit St. Mark’s Square and the Basilica, entering without having to stand in the long tourist lines.

Visit Italy Tours to discover more of the rich culture, history, & beauty of Italy. Don’t forget the spirit of giving this holiday season – give the gift of travel! Reserve 123 gift cards (valid for 5 years) provide access to thousands of tours, activities and experiences around the world. Give the gift of travel to friends, family, coworkers, employees, and anybody else you wish to impress. From dinner cruises and sightseeing boat tours to city excursions and attraction tickets, the Reserve 123 gift card can be used in hundreds of global vacation destinations. Order your Reserve 123 Travel Gift Cards here!

A Photo Tour is Worth a Thousand Words!

Monday, September 14th, 2009

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Chances are, you have had the opportunity to take some amazing tours and see some incredible sights at some point in your life, but have you ever seen them on a photo tour? Photo tours are a fairly new trend in travel, and they can be taken in groups or on a more private basis.

Best of Seattle

Best of Seattle

Tours like The Waterfront Photo Tour in Boston not only give you the historical tidbits you desire, but also some very helpful tips for how to capture the best photographs on your journey.  While you may have taken a trip to Boston in the past, you have never seen the city like this before! Tours like this one are for those who want to get more out of their visit than a quick snap here and there, some of which may not come out the way you imagined they would.  This time, take home not only wonderful memories, but wonderful pictures to go along with them.

You can find similar tours in Seattle, Flagstaff, and New York as well.  The Best

Custom New York Tour

Custom New York Tour

of Seattle Photo Walking Tour, which is limited to 8 adults to optimize the learning experience, takes guests of all skill levels to famous sights like Pike Place Market – including the “Wall of Gum” just outside the Market Theater – and the waterfront.  For a more personal tour, the Central Park & New York City Neighborhoods Personal Photo Tour is an excellent choice.  This tour takes you on either a two or three-hour journey through New York with a personal tour guide and photographer who will capture your special moments for you as you explore some of the beautiful architecture and local neighborhoods that identify New York as the unique city that it is.

Other photo tours are available in cities such as Washington, DC, Lake Tahoe, and Florence, Italy.  For the most up-to-date options for your next vacation, visit

Guided Tours of the Uffizi Gallery in Florence

Monday, August 3rd, 2009

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The Uffizi Gallery is one of the most well-known art galleries in the world.It houses such famous works as Botticelli’s The Birth of Venus and Primavera as well as Leonardo da Vinci’s The Annunciation and The Adoration of the Magi. There is a large assortment of other celebrated masterpieces displayed at this gallery which is housed in the Palazzo degli Uffizi, a palace in Florence.

The Guided Tour of the Uffizi Gallery in Florence Italy takes you through the museum, which showcases a timeline of fine Italian art known throughout the world.Paintings and sculptures have been collected or commissioned by the Medici family – a very powerful and wealthy family during the 13th to 17th centuries – over the years and are now available for your viewing pleasure.With the help of multilingual guides, you will learn about the history and works of this famous museum as you explore.

This trip is more than worthwhile.  It will give you a new appreciation for art and culture and will open your eyes to the magical world created by famed artists of the past.  You will gain admission without waiting in line, but this tour books extremely quickly as you can imagine so it is essential that you book early.

You can find this and other great tours of Florence and the surrounding area by visiting

Fine Art and Architecture in Florence

Tuesday, January 6th, 2009

Florence, located in the heart of Tuscany, is surrounded by the Apennine Mountains and gorgeous Tuscan vineyards and olive groves.  Like the rest of Italy, it is known for bearing famous artists and stunning architecture like Santa Maria del Fiore, or ‘The Duomo.’

Perhaps one of the most well-known artists – and one-time residents of Florence – who ever lived is Michelangelo, who created the incredible marble sculpture of the David, modeled after a young and nude Israelite king David, as he decides to go to battle with Goliath.  The City Sightseeing Hop On Hop Off Bus Tour in Florence Italy gives you the chance to surround yourself with priceless works of art such as this one, along with Botticelli’s Venus and other famous works kept in the Galleria dell’ Accademia  and Uffizi Gallery.  It also takes a stop at the Duomo, a fine work of architecture whose dome was designed by Filippo Brunelleschi in 1419 during a competition to win the commission.  Brunelleschi drew his inspiration from the Pantheon in Rome.  He was later buried at the Duomo and his tomb is open for public viewing to this day.

One of the stops on this tour is the Palazzo Pitti, often known in English as Pitti Palace.  It is located south of the River Arno and close to the Medieval bridge, Ponte Vecchio.  Palazzo Pitti was used as a power base for Napoleon in the 18th century and briefly served as the primary palace in Italy.  Today it is open to the public and serves as one of Florence’s largest art galleries.

This tour is worth its weight in gold, as it allows you to see in person what you may have only seen in books and in copied prints before.  For artists and those who appreciate talent and beauty in traditional and nontraditional forms, this tour is definitely for you.

Visit for details on how you can make your trip to Florence truly memorable!

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