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“Just don’t ask for pineapple on your pizza and you’ll be fine…” Trip of the week: Simply Italy

A group of people enjoying a 30th birthday trip on a rooftop with drinks.

From Tuscany to the Amalfi Coast, from the lakes in the North to the sunny islands in the South, every corner of Italy is worth a visit, and if you’re not sure which one to prioritise then don’t worry. You don’t have to with Simply Italy

This 15 day whirlwind trip will take you to all of Italy’s icons and then some. It’s pizza, pasta, and gelato galore with a background of balmy beaches, storied cities, ruins haunted by ancient glory, and the perfect holiday vibes. Live la vita dolce from Cinque Terre to Milan all the way to Amalfi and discover some of the shiniest hidden gems that only Contiki can uncover. 

If you’re craving strolls through lemon groves and Tuscan olive farms, sunset coloured towns, and boatloads of the most amazing food, then this is 100% the trip for you. We caught up with our expert Trip Manager Marco Delpopolo to get just a few of his trip favourites. 

Can you give me 3 reasons why I’ll love this trip?

The food. The people. The Dream.

“How can we discuss Italy without discussing the food? You’ll see how even the service stops in Italy have some of the best food in the country – the standards never drop! €2 Aperol Spritz and €5 margherita pizza, gelato, tiramisu, all the Italian food and drink you can think of at the best quality and the cheapest prices.”

“Secondly, you get to learn all about the Italian way of life and it’s pure bliss. Italians are vibrant and welcoming people and you’ll meet some great locals along the way. Just don’t ask for pineapple on your pizza and you’ll be fine…”

“Lastly, visiting Italy is the dream, so why wouldn’t you love it? From visiting Cinque Terre, seeing David in Florence, posing by the leaning tower of Pisa, and having authentic pizza in the city it was created – it’s literally a dream trip!”

group of friends travelling through Sicily, Italy

Image source:Contiki

This trip is for me if…

“If you love food, wine, and anything Italian, if you want to fully immerse yourself in Italian culture, then you should book right now! It’s a mixture of lazy days and party nights, diving into history and culture, and even touching the fair Juliet’s breast for good luck. Simply put, if you love Italy and want to learn about this country, this is the trip for you.”

What’s the most spellbinding view:

Positano and Cinque Terre.

“A lot of Italy is really beautiful, it’s one of those rare countries that’s just stunning no matter where you go. But, the coastal views of The Amalfi coast, particularly Positano, or Cinque Terre are a fan favourite for a reason. These sights just take the cake. With the stacked and colourful houses crawling up the cliff sides, cruising into these port towns by ferry makes for a magical arrival.” 

view of Positano in Italy

Image source:Contiki

What’s the tastiest food experience:

What isn’t?

“All of the Italian food and the food we eat on this trip is the tastiest food experience, of course. If I have to choose one though I would say it’s the Naples walking street food tour because Naples is the birthplace of pizza and how can it get any better than that?”

“It’s also nice to eat with a view, and we get to walk around Naples’ most historic streets while snacking on some local treats. The best of all is the sfogliatella: a lobster-tail-shaped ricotta-filled pastry coated in a layer of powdered sugar. Delicious!”

“Some absolute must tries while you’re in Italy include bistecca all florentine and panino in Florence, and authentic carbonara in Rome!”

Any selfie tips for Pisa?

“For the perfect illusion photo you’ve got to think outside of the box! Come up with a fun concept (like licking the tower like an ice cream cone, maybe?) and make the photo totally yours. Also, make sure the person taking the photo for you is the one to move the camera, not the other way around.”

leaning tower of Pisa, Italy

Image source:Contiki

The sweetest stay:

San Servolo.

“It has to be San Servolo, which is an old monastery situated on its very own little island, surrounded by the blue lagoons of Venice. It’s one of the only areas in Venice to actually have grass as well, so that’s pretty cool, and it’s a 5 minute motoscafo ride to Piazza San Marco – private boat ride anyone?”

Best spot for culture vultures:

Pompeii. Verona. Vatican.

“It can’t be anything other than Pompeii, it’s just too cool and historic an area to top. I mean, the fact that a whole city was destroyed by a volcanic eruption but we’ve still managed to preserve the ruins all these centuries later? Amazing, and very sad.”

“Seeing Juliet’s balcony in Verona is also a fun one especially for all the literature and Shakespeare fans that join the trip. Who doesn’t want to see the place where young love happened?”

“And of course, you can’t talk about culture without including the Vatican City, for all the museums, Saint Peter’s Basilica, which is just gorgeous, and the Sistine Chapel which is even more gorgeous and stunning than the Basilica! These are Italian jewels and they’re tough to beat.”

view of Mount Vesuvius and Pompeii, Italy

Image source:Contiki

Which has the better art scene: Venice or Florence?

“Well, Florence is often called a ‘walking museum’ so… I think that answers your question. It’s just insane how many galleries there are beyond the famous ones (which are of course worth a visit), most people don’t even know about them like the Borgello art gallery.”

“I think for art, nowhere in Italy can compete with Florence, but Venice is also fantastic especially with the Biennale festival that happens every year and celebrates the art and architecture of the city. Not to mention the history of Venetian masks…”

Most jaw-dropping included experience:

Walking tours of Siena and Lucca

“I think there’s a lot on this trip that’s quite jaw-dropping, but I wanted to pick our stopovers in Siena and Lucca because these little towns are quite underrated – most of the travellers don’t know about them before we go – but they’re always such a surprise.”

“Siena is a mediaeval town which still carries that influence and the Piazza del Campo is really special; in fact it even turns into a horse racing track for an event held twice a year in July and August.”

“Lucca, a quintessential Tuscan town with yellow buildings and terracotta-tiled roofs, is known as the City of Walls because everything is built around the centre to form an oval kind of. It’s very cool and we also get the opportunity to visit a family winery just outside the town and have a mid-day wine tasting. Who doesn’t love that?”

The Free-Time Add On that’ll give my friends the most FOMO?

Cooking Class in Rome.

“Definitely the pasta making class in Rome and dinner because who doesn’t want to be taught how to make authentic and real Italian pasta and then get to eat it with their Contiki family?”

“We get taught by a local chef and he gives the best advice and tips and tricks of the trade (lucky us). It’s a lot of fun, and it happens towards the end of the trip so it’s a really nice way to close this adventure off and seal friendships with everyone. Plus, you get to come home with pasta making tips fresh on the mind to impress all your friends and family!”

What’s the lemon grove tour in Amalfi like?

“It’s amazing! In the right season you get to see the lemons hanging from the trees and they’re as big as your head – there’s no lemons like Amalfi lemons. You get to learn about how tourism keeps these farms alive as well, and we get to try all things lemon: candies, sorbet, limoncello… It’s a great day out where we really get to learn something new from locals in an authentic way and we get to bond as a Contiki family as well.”

Amalfi Lemon Experience - lemon farm

Image source:Contiki

The thing that’ll surprise me the most about this trip?

“Just how varied all the regions of Italy are – they don’t seem it but they’re all so different. When people ask me what my favourite place in Italy is I can never decide! You can immerse yourself in the art culture of Rome and Florence, or head up to the fashion capital in Milan, visit a unique history in the sinking city of Venice, etc. Italy is just so cool.”

If this trip was a song it’d be:

“It would either be ‘Ti amo’ by Sara Perche, or ‘What dreams are made of’ by Hilary Duff (if you know you know!).”

If this trip was a drink it’d be:

“A limoncello spritz of course.”

Describe this trip in 3 words:

“Live, laugh, eat.”

best foods in the world

Image source:Contiki

What’s the funniest story you’ve seen/heard happen on this trip?

“I have two that I just have to tell.”

“In Italy we still have emergency cords in the bathrooms, and one of my travellers didn’t know this, she thought it was the flush, so when she was in the bathroom at a restaurant, she pulled it. Since these emergency cords still work, one of the male restaurant workers came banging on her door and was yelling at her in Italian trying to help, and now I think she is scarred for life.”

“The other story is that one of my travellers asked a waiter at a restaurant how to say “cheers” in Italian, but the waiter understood “cheese”, so for about 5 days they were “cheersing” and saying formaggio instead. I overheard them one day and I asked them why they were saying cheese as they were cheersing, and everyone just burst into laughter. (Cheers in Italian is salute, just so you know.)

Which part of this trip makes you love your job?

“For me it’s all the authentic experiences this trip has, that authentic Italian experience is exactly what people want and getting to provide that to people is amazing – it almost brings tears to my eyes every time.”

“My favourite example of this is when we do the food tour in Napoli and the local guide brings us to Tzittiana House, which is a house owned by a Neapolitan couple, and it’s a really genuine experience. They teach us some Neapolitan slang and language tricks, as well as hand gestures, we do singing and dancing, they feed us wine and pasta that they’ve made for us, and at the end we get a certificate which makes us ‘Neapolitan citizens’. It’s so genuine and it warms everyone’s hearts.”

Is there anything I haven’t asked about this trip that you think I should know?

“It’s just a really amazing trip. All the people are really great, the suppliers are really great, the experiences are amazing. You really get to see what Italy truly has to offer, we do all the iconic stuff like gondola rides in Venice and Colosseum tours in Rome, but also some niche things you wouldn’t think to do otherwise.”

“You get to learn that limoncello isn’t a shot, but a digestive, you get to learn how olive oil is made, and find out that Bologna is home to the oldest university in the world! It’s just an awesome trip.”

Here’s what our travellers have to say:

“This was probably by far my favourite Contiki, and it was my third! I love Italy and I’ve been before, but on this Simply Italy trip I got to see the country in a whole new light. There’s something for everyone to do and our Trip Manager was amazing. I would do this trip again in a heartbeat!”

“The trip was truly an incredible experience! The itinerary and activities were great, but our Trip Manager and Driver took the trip to the next level. It was the family atmosphere of Contiki that made me as a solo traveller feel at home immediately. Book this trip!”

“Simply Italy was one of the best Contiki’s I’ve been on. The structure of the tour and the itinerary was amazing – I’d definitely recommend doing this trip again.”

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