29 Dec 2014 - 09 Jan 2015
I booked this trip last minuet on a whim because I had no New Years plans. I'm so glad I went!
Seeing Italy during the winter is a truly unique experience. The cities are a beautifully lit up with sparkle lights and Christmas decor. Ringing in the New Year in Italy you can feel a sense of hope, love and peace in the air. Our trip was lucky enough to celebrate New Years eve in the stunning seaside town of Sorrento, New Years Day in Florence and the Italian Holiday Epiphany in the Cinque Terre. It was fascinating and truly special to celebrate with the locals and see their beautiful traditions.
Our amazing manager Enzo constantly praised us for our decisions to visit his country during the winter. We were often reminded of our luck when visiting towns like Capri and Venice which during the summer are usually impassable due to the high influx of tourists. Seeing how crowded Verona and Milan were in January, I can only imagine that during the summer these places must be miserably crowded.
I come from a mild climate state so the cold weather didn't really bother me. But many of my Australian tour mates had a pretty rough time on some of the colder days. Apparently it was the coldest January much of the country had seen in 40 years? It snowed in the South!
I think what really makes or breaks your trip is how you spend your free time. I was lucky enough to meet a couple of like-minded people who believed in the Contiki moto #noregrets. We stayed out most nights, met the locals and explored the cities on our own. Some of my favorite memories are when I went walking by myself in Capri and Sirmione. Being in a group is great, but its important to find time for reflection on your own.
I recommend doing all of the me time meal options. I loved the group dinners and most of them provided bottomless wine! The best meal was our final in Rome. The singing waiters were amazing!
I don't recommend doing the Contiki arranged gondola ride. I didn't enjoy being in the gondola with 5 other people. I felt like we were going to tip over and only two people got good seats. The rest of us had to hunch over on little stools. Arrange it on your own! I personally am not interested in in-depth lectures on history so I would not do the walking-tours if I went again. There was more "talking" and less walking. Get a guide pamphlet and explore on your own. I felt like these tours took away from our free time.
I was amazed by the size of the suitcases some people brought for our 12 day trip! Travel tip: Pack and then take out half! You don’t need so much stuff! Everyone complimented me daily on my outfits and I had the smallest suitcase of all the girls! Bring only some key items and mix and match. Because it’s winter you don’t need to worry about getting sweaty or smelly so it’s even easier to pack light! Besides you’re in Italy! If you need more clothes you can buy them there!
My favorite things from the trip?
- Boat ride on Lake Garda
- Montebuoni' Tuscan Dinner
- Electronic Space Disco
- Getting lost in Venice
- New Years in Sorrento
- Chilling with to much wine in the Cinque Terre
*Our hotels were all very nice. Some were pretty far from the city center, but all easily accessible by cab or metro. I booked a triple share and won the lottery by ending up with a single. So that was nice.
*Our guide Enzo was great. He provided a wealth of knowledge about the history and lifestyle of Italy. He was also very passionate about the welfare, growth and our impressions of his home country. I’ll never forget his daily greetings (insert italian accent) “Contiki…..!!!” His pal and our driver Fabio was quiet but also entertaining. He didn’t speak english but he interacted with us using hand signals and facial expressions. He reminded me of Mr.Bean.
I certainly recommend this trip to anyone looking for a more in-depth and cultural experience. It’s great to spend a 12 days in one country. I feel like we really saw the best of Italy and I know I could go back someday and traverse it on my own! Go on this trip. You won’t regret it!
“The richest people in the world are those who have seen it.”
Read more about this trip and others at:
Review written Jan 2015event 0.3
16 Jan 2012 - 27 Jan 2012
This was my first Contiki and it exceeded my expectation by a mile! If you want to see Italy in depth and meet new friends along the way, I couldn't think of a better tour. The best part of the trip for me was travelling around such a gorgeous country with a bunch of like minded people who ended up being life long friends. The optionals are great and I wouldn't sit out on many of them. My favourite optional would have to be the dinner in Florence which was easily one of the best nights of my life! Great food, great wine, great company and a guy who looked like a meatloaf impersonator playing the piano! Perfection :) Our Tour Manager Yannick (quickly got the name Enrique for no other reason than that he looked like an Enrique) and bus drive Fabio (whatever you do don't order a Fabio pizza haha) were a great duo and really brought our group together. I knew if I was ever in trouble they would be there to help no matter what, which was really comforting. I would do this tour again in a heart beat!
Review written May 2014event 0.3
07 Nov 2011 - 18 Nov 2011
The length of this tour allows everyone in the group to get to know each other and really develop some amazing friendships. Our close knit group came from all different parts of Australia to catch up last year and we were just as close then as we were on tour. This was all helped by our amazing tour manager Katia, our Contiki Mama.
We got off to a slow start as we took a taxi to the wrong hotel, as the one we were supposed to be staying at shut down and the information we were given was not totally clear. Luckily we met others there in the same situation and shared a taxi to the right hotel. Rome was beautiful but busy. Sorrento was beautiful and relaxing although our trip to Capri was very foggy, rainy and most things were shut because it was Autumn heading into Winter.
I did all the tour optionals and they were all fabulous, especially the ones that were dinners. The food was amazing! Best spaghetti I have ever had in Florence. I loved this city as it had such a beautiful feel about it and was not as 'in your face' as the other cities. Venice was spectacular, the glass demonstration is a must see! We stayed on the main land and travelled by train and boat which was fine. The hotel here was so spacious and nice it was amazing to get back to and relax. In my opinion Milan was overrated and too busy to enjoy, so many people shoving things in your face and nothing really amazing to see except for the Cathedral, I would recommend exploring this rather than shopping if you don't like crowds.
Our trip to Cinque Terre was disrupted due to mudslides but we still enjoyed Portovenere, very glamorous. Back to Rome where we went to the Vatican and Trevi fountain at night, so gorgeous and amazing. And finally our farewell dinner where we danced and sang, Katia gave an emotional speech. It was beautiful.
This contiki had a much different feeling to my first one, more mature but still just as fun. I think this is why the friendships I made on this tour are still so strong today, there is only one downside... Missing them all!
Review written Feb 2013event 0.3
04 Feb 2013 - 15 Feb 2013
This was my first Contiki, and after this trip I can't imagine any other way to travel. Our tour guide BB and bus driver Cornelius were amazing and did everything possible to make this the holiday of a lifetime. The tour itself was fantastic, not only did we visit all of the tourist sites but we also saw some of the hidden treasures that you often miss when travelling alone. The hotels, included tours and included meals were great but I would definitely recommend doing the optional extras, they were amazing value and lots of fun. Other than the sites and the culture one of the best things i am taking away from this tour are the friendships i've made. In short : I would definitely recommend Contiki as a way of travel and I would definitely recommend this tour. Perfect!
Review written Feb 2013event 0.3
05 Dec 2011 - 16 Dec 2011
As a first-time traveller I can really recommend this trip! It was well-organised, with an informative and very knowledgable local guide who helped organise a lot of activities for us, even post-tour. I chose all the optionals except for a few dinners. Would definitely recommend choosing all optional tours as you see and learn so much more than you would otherwise - this was especially true in Rome and Pompeii, and the guides are such fun characters! Included meals were delicious, and so fresh, and for other meals our guide Yannick recommended excellent places. A little, non-English speaking restaurant in La Spezia he recommended had the best ravioli I've ever tasted.
There were a lot of couples in the group, and in some ways it was quite a laid back tour, but there were also some great nights out! We all had a lot of fun.
As someone who only knows how to say "natural water" and "thankyou" in Italian, this trip certainly took the hassle and confusion out of travelling.
Pompeii and Capri were definite highlights, but really the entire trip was just one giant highlight!
Review written Jan 2012event 0.3
18 Dec 2011 - 30 Dec 2011
All was wonderful. Need to improve the included items a bit and the tour in the Vatican Museum was way too fast. More time in Rome and Florence is required. XMAS holidays closed major shopping attraction and Last Supper painting in Milan but the rest of the trip was great.
No lines in places and less crowds to contend with. All included meals were good expect the one in Milan which should be refunded to the whole group. Every plate was left FULL. It was terrible. All the other meals were very good.
Review written Jan 2012event 0.3
17 Oct 2011 - 28 Oct 2011
it was one of the best trip in my life, had the time of my life and the group was amazing we had a blast, i recommend it to everyone who never been to Italy, this is a trip which you will explore and see italy like you've never seen it before.
Review written Oct 2011event 0.3