Our Italian Longstays Vacation
Longstays Vacations are a unique collection of longer duration vacations, exclusively by Merit Travel to places like Tuscany and including wondrous places like Sorrento and Rome. Spend up to 30 days in your favourite destination and live like a local with the perks of a tourist. Our itineraries include excursions, round-trip airfare, host services and optional add-ons, which make our Longstays vacations hugely popular for new and returning clients. Enjoy reading about our Tuscany, Rome and Sorrento experience and request a free brochure to learn more!
Beginning our Longstays vacation
As soon as we landed in Florence in the beautiful Tuscany region of Italy, we quickly felt at ease as we met with our Italian tour representatives. Shortly after hello’s and introductions, we filed onto a bus that transferred us over approximately two hours from Florence, to what would be our home for the next two weeks, in the fairytale village of Artimino.
Artimino, Florence and Siena
Imagine an authentic quaint Italian village perched overlooking the rolling vineyards below, shrouded in mist in the wee hours of the morning and with church bells majestically echoing across the valley! What we found the most heart-warming was the genuine love and passion our tour representatives and bus drivers (especially Silvareo) shared with us for their country.
Our excursions took us to breath-taking vineyards throughout the pristine countryside of Tuscany, sampling savoury local food and wines. We were greeted everywhere with a zest for finer things in life – people, food and drink!
The city tour of Florence will remain a wonderful memory as we enjoyed our own personal adventures along the historical streets, through museums, churches and sipped espresso at various cafes.
Siena was an inspiring excursion. There were many hidden gems, a-number-of interesting stories behind the architecture and an inviting energetic spirit in the city. We ticked off items from our bucket list, like climbing the well-worn crooked steps of the leaning tower of Pisa, a definite a highlight for us all. Priceless moments included visiting a local organic farmstead and preparing our own pasta from scratch with locally sourced produce. We later enjoyed shared our prepared meal over lunch with an ample supply of organic wine, of course!
Venice and the Cinque Terre
We as hosts loved organizing the additional excursions which most of our group eagerly signed up for. Venice was beyond breathe-taking, the day couldn’t have been more beautiful. There was a pristine beauty here beyond what we imagined, the walking tour of Piazza San Marco, often known in English as St Mark’s Square was amazing. We then enjoyed another bucket-list experience when we boarded a gondola boat for a tour through the Venetian waterways. On another excursion we escaped for a day trip to the iconic Cinque Terre. With the sun smiling on us, we strolled through the quaint coastal villages tucked alongside the scenic cliffs, exposing vineyard and orchard clad landscapes straight from an Italian movie set!
After our gently paced timing in Artimino, we were whisked off to the next leg of our trip, Rome! This trip was a constant barrage of ‘pinch me’ moments. We arrived in Rome mid-afternoon and after checking in to our superbly centrally located hotel, we couldn’t’ wait to head out and investigate our surroundings. I’ll never forget, as we quietly sat in St Peter’s Square, gazing at The Vatican, how the night’s sky lit up with the dazzling lights of Rome. We were surprised how silent and soothing the space was at night, after a day filled-to-capacity with masses of tourists from around the globe.
The next adventure was the tour of the Basilica with artwork and architecture reflecting the spirit of this iconic attraction. The Colosseum tour was exceptionally memorable as our tour guide wove stories that kept us all hanging off his every word. We learned a great deal about ancient stories of gladiators, beasts and slaves, passed down through the generations.
Our city tour of Rome, involved meandering through narrow streets and stopping alongside infamous monuments like the Trevi Fountain (my personal favourite), the Spanish Stairs and the Pantheon.
Sorrento and the Amalfi Coast
After two days in Rome, we boarded our bus and headed south to our next destination Sorrento. The way to Sorrento was stunning as we drove alongside the coast, passing Naples on the way. We arrived at our hotel with plenty of time to meander the beautiful, less busy streets, perched above the ocean. While in Sorrento, we ventured to the Isle of Capri, a short ferry ride from Sorrento. Some of us enjoyed a romantic boat tour around the island, enjoying the cliff-side villages, with the most amazing views.
The next excursion involved a full-day discovering the incredible Amalfi Coast. The winding roads etched out of the towering cliffs, offered continuous spectacular views and endless photo opportunities!
The Pompeii tour was a surreal step back in time to an amazingly preserved, but slightly haunting village that remained after Mount Vesuvius erupted in 79AD. We also toured the city of Naples, home of pizza! Wandering through the city streets We found the ultimate restaurant to taste their city’s not so secret treasure.
Wrapping up our Italian Longstay vacation
We have so many fond memories from our Italian adventure. We’re truly humbled by the experiences, the endless classic and delicious servings of pizza, pasta and Chianti wine. However, what we treasured most were the connections we made with our amazing group and our Italian local representatives who acted as our exceptional local tour guides. We felt and witnessed the warmest bonds being made in our group, as we effortlessly shared precious moments together. Beyond memorable, we are grateful…the whole trip was as the Italians would say was… Fantastico!
Consider joining the Tuscany, Rome and Sorrento Longstays vacation. Immerse yourself in the Italian culture through food and wine over 24 nights. Participate in a cooking class, learning to cook local dishes and taste the local wine, while learning about viticulture. Spend three nights in Rome and visit the famous Vatican Museum and Sistine Chapel. Finally, discover Sorrento, a small enchanting town, perched on a cliff, along a beautiful stretch of azure blue coastline, and overlooking the islands off Naples. Rest easy at night in 3.5 – 4-star accommodation.
Alternatively you might like the sound of the 21-night Croatia and Sicily Longstays vacation. This tour through Croatia to Sicily is sure to impress. Start in Zagreb, the Croatian capital, before exploring Istria, known for its rolling hills, medieval hilltop and coastal towns, delicious food and wine, and olive groves. Stay in Rovinj and enjoy meeting locals and tasting wine and truffles. Journey along the dramatic coastlines of Split and the walled 16th century city of Dubrovnik. In Sicily enjoy an ideal combination of sea, volcano and mountain scenery. Explore Catania, Palermo and Ragusa and stay in the old town of Agrigento and visit the Valley of the Temples and the Regional Archaeological Museum, both UNESCO World Heritage sites. Rest easy at night in 4 – 5-star accommodation.
Learn more by requesting a free brochure or browse our Longstays vacations online.
If you enjoyed reading this blog, have a look at the Portugal Longstays vacation, one of our Tour Hosts enjoyed with fellow Canadian travellers.
July 5, 2018