Posts Tagged ‘italy’

Gratuity Standards Around the World

Friday, March 22nd, 2013

In the United States, most people use an exact formula to calculate how much gratuity they pay to those in the service industry. For others, a tip is paid according to the quality of service(s) received. It can be a sensitive topic.

Various restaurants pay their wait staff real viagra without prescription low wages, with the expectation that gratuities from patrons will supplement their income. Unfortunately, that expectation is not always met, and even first-class servers can find themselves short-changed at times. Leaving a tip is always optional, but the customs in some countries are more firm than others. Here are a few gratuity standards. (more…)

Travel in Color

Wednesday, December 19th, 2012

Photo Courtesy of Flickr

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We’re big fans of all things colorful.

Sunlit landscapes, like the one pictured above, add a little dazzle to any environment. For that reason, we’re currently highlighting colorful destinations on our Tumblr page. Hotspots include: Navpactos, Greece; Sakura, Japan; Guanajuato, Mexico and of course, New York City. Every city has it’s own set of vibrant hues to showcase, and the right stroll down the right lane can send you into a visual frenzy. Check out a few of our favorites.


An Old World Italian Christmas

Thursday, December 13th, 2012

Christmas in St Peter’s Square

The Italians know how to do a party! And Christmas in Italy is exactly that. They begin their celebrations 8 days before Christmas Day and it goes on afterwards until around the 6th of January. A full three weeks of merriment. These traditions fall along religious lines and are festive times of prayer, worship, gifts and food!

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December 8th begins with the Novena. It is a sacred church service that begins prayer services until Christmas Mass. This is the day of the Immacolata and is noted by the appearances of all the nativities and the Christmas Trees are lit.  In the evening families will gather round their nativity and pray and sing songs. Decorations are left up until the 6th of January. It’s very bad luck to leave them up any longer.

There is fun Italian proverb that goes: La vita è come un albero di natale, c’è sempre qualcuno che rompe le palle.

In English that’s: Life is like a Christmas tree, there’s always someone who breaks the balls.


Making the Most of your Winery Tour

Tuesday, September 18th, 2012

Sebastiani Winery

Who doesn’t love a good wine tour? Hop on a bus, jump in a jeep, slide in an SUV, or lounge in limo, and take off for a day of tasting, sampling, swishing and spitting – all the while, not having to worry about who’s driving home! A wine tour is both a relaxing and cultural experience, because every region has their own wine sipping traditions. We offer a wide variety of winery tour options from some of the best vineyards on the planet. Whether you’re visiting Napa, California, Frascati, Italy, Hawkes Bay, New Zealand, or anywhere in between, there’s a probably a nearby tour you can join. So eat a hearty breakfast, throw on some comfortable shoes, and take part in the fun. We’ve got a few tips to help you make the most of it.

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Madonna Winery – Napa Valley

Listen to your Sommelier(s) 

Every winery you visit will have a knowledgeable steward, sharing information about their establishment and/or the wines you’ll be tasting. This might seem obvious, but you should actually listen to him or her. You’re guaranteed to learn something new, and it’ll make the experience even more memorable. Sure, you might already know everything when it comes to balance, body and brix, but there’s a reason they do this for a living. Since you’ll be tasting their wines, you might as well hear what fun things they have to say about it. Each sip is sweeter once you’ve been educated about it.

Sip, Sip, Sip, Spit

Sutter Home Winery Sample

Rule of thumb: the first sip cleans the palate, and the second sip is when you savor the flavor. Whether you like it or not, try giving it a third sip. Every bottle has a different character, so let your taste buds warm up to each variety. If you really don’t like it, you can always (gracefully) spit it back into your glass and drop the rest in the spit bucket.

Pace Yourself

A quality wine tour visits at least three to four vineyards or wineries. Even though you’re only downing a few samples here and there, they add up – especially if you’re a lightweight! Take full advantage of the spit bucket, and even if you hold your water like a camel, you’ll arguably get the most enjoyment out of the tour by taking it easy. After all, it’s not a pub crawl. Savor each sip, and let them take you on a serene ride through all the grape-y goodness.

Walk This Way – Walking Tours Around the World

Tuesday, January 3rd, 2012

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Let’s face it – you’ve got it, and it’s time to flaunt it. One of the best ways to discover the hidden secrets of any locale while traveling is to get off the beaten path and explore for yourself! Whether you choose to blaze your own trail or let the local’s in the know show you the secret hot spots, Walking Tours are not only as good as it gets for up-close encounters, but also very affordable and excellent for your health. Score. So polish your stylish catwalk and get ready to turn heads while traveling! Check out Reserve123′s top picks of some of the most unique walking tours around the globe.

Stroll through the Rainforests of Hawaii

Stroll through the Rainforests of Hawaii

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Oahu Mountain Rainforest Walking Tour from Honolulu – Journey to the scenic mountains high above the shimmering waters of Pearl Harbor to a place that time has passed by. In this beautiful setting we walk into a forest that includes Hawaiian honeycreepers, scarlet-flowered Ohia and majestic Koa trees. This tour involves 4 miles of walking over a 3.5 hour time span; appropriate for moderate fitness level. Includes free Honolulu hotel pickup and return. These tours are limited to just 14 participants to provide a personal touring experience, so order early to ensure your space!

See the natural & creative beauty of Queenstown

See the natural & handmade beauty of Queenstown

Art & Nature Walking Tour in Queenstown New Zealand – Soak up nature and art on this walking tour through Queenstown. Meet local art communities and gain inspiration from their work. Learn about some of New Zealand’s unique plants on a leisurely stroll through the Botanical Gardens. Meander past buildings and sites steeped in local history and wrap up a pleasurable morning spent walking with a delicious lunch on the waterfront. Life doesn’t get more relaxing than this.

Go to the Movies in London

Watch? LIVE the Movies in London!

London Film Walking Tour – Come along on a two hour guided walking tour through famous London film locations, TV studios, ancient streets, pubs, churches and other places of historical interest taking in the River Thames, The Strand, Fleet St and into the City of London. You’ll be able to stand at the same London film locations that were used in films such as Bridget Jones’s Diary, The Da Vinci Code, Sherlock Holmes, Harry Potter, Mona Lisa, Four Weddings and a Funeral and more!

Discover the dark, buried history of Rome

Discover the dark, buried history of Rome

Skip the Line: Crypts & Catacombs Tour in Rome – Are you brave enough to see the Rome Catacombs? Become Indiana Jones as you discover imperial and early Christian Rome by peeling back layers and millenniums of history. Descend into the Eternal city’s underground burial chambers, its long winding catacombs and its crypts. Go below and beyond to a time when Christianity was considered a simple cult whose members were executed as pagans and buried as martyrs. The one and only tour that takes you to crypts and catacombs from different historical eras, in diverse locations and with varying styles!

You're in for a treat in Boston

Get a Taste of Boston at Beacon Hill

Boston Chocolate Walking Tour of Beacon Hill – If you’ve never taken a decadent chocolate walking tour, you’re in for a treat (lots of them actually). A friendly, outgoing expert guide will whisk you off into a world of exotic imports, closely guarded recipes and intimate tastings. The destinations are always carefully selected from the very finest each city has to offer – artisan chocolatiers, celebrated restaurants and more.

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Desserts From Around the World

Wednesday, October 12th, 2011

Chocolate Gifts from

There are many people who eat their way around the world. Trust me, if I could do that, I would not only be able to fit in this chair, I would have to be rolled out of the office Willy Wonka-style. It’s self-explanatory as to why food is so crucial to traveling. For one thing, eating is essential to living (there’s Biology 101, for ya), but most importantly food is an experience that’s shared with your fellow travelers. Whether you’re eating at a swanky restaurant in Paris or on a patio in Greece, food creates an occasion that enriches your travels and can make memories of a lifetime.

I asked the office what are their favorite desserts (that’s the best part of the meal!) from around the world or even in their own backyard (Atlanta).

Photo by flexyournoggin

Kinder Eggs by flexyournoggin

“I went to Germany once when I was about 10 years old with my family. In Germany, they had these small chocolate eggs that had little toys you could put together inside called Kinder Eggs (made by the Italian company Ferrero). The chocolate tastes different from most American brands. I’m not sure about the confection details, but I loved the mix of white chocolate and milk chocolate. I hope I can get another one of those Kinder Eggs if I can visit Germany again someday.” – Lauren

I swear I have seen this kind of chocolate somewhere in the Georgia! Calling all chocoholics, now is the time to unite and find these little goodies for Lauren!

“My favorite dessert memory was in Positano, Italy on the Amalfi Coast. We were in a little bakery with all homemade desserts, and I saw this beautiful cannoli dipped in chocolate. It was SOOO YUMMY! The views of the beach, ocean, old world buildings, and the fresh sea breeze were absolutely fabulous as we sat on the patio eating our dessert and drinking cappuccino.” – Kathy

“Carnegie Deli in New York had some great food. The cheesecake was exquisite. It was the best I’ve ever had. That is one thing I loved about New York City – the food was great everywhere you went, even the hot dog vendors were good.” – Michael

Welsh cakes by Jennz World

Welsh cakes by Jennz World

“My ex-mother-in-law was from Wales and she made these often and they are really delicious. It’s more like a cookie, but it’s called a Welsh cake. I’ve never seen them in the US… not even in the Northeast bakeries.” – Janice

“I went to Italy for a week in December last year and there was this gelato shop in the fashion district that was really good. I wish I could remember the flavor or the name of the shop! It had the vibe of a Starbucks.” – Ellarie

“One of my favorite dessert memories was from England when my friends and I went to an Italian restaurant on Little Clarendon Street. My friend and I got two different desserts. I forgot what I ordered, but I remember I almost finished my friend’s panna cotta. It was smooth and so silky, I almost took her plate. It was a wonderful night out with friends and a wonderful dessert.” – Kris

Do you have any awesome dessert memories? Do you know where we can find Kinder Eggs in Georgia?!? Well go ahead and comment below. :)

– Kris

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

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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.


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