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»» Design Your Own Wine Tour in Tuscany

Tuscany is one of the favorite destinations in Italy for wine tours.
Land well known for its stunning countryside landscapes, art, history, Tuscany is also one of the most recognized areas of the country for producing excellent wines. With its large number of wineries, Tuscany is an ideal holiday destination for wine tourists who are planning a trip to Italy.
When it comes to guided wine tours, wine tourists have a lot of options to choose from, particularly if they opt for group tours.

However, those who want design their own — individual — tour have a decision to take: renting a car and going on their own or going on a tour with a driver.

A tour with a driver could be very expensive. You could pay a price in the region of 500 – 600 Euros a day.

Renting a car would be, not only a cheaper option, it would give you the freedom you need to deeply enjoy your wine tour. It would allow you to visit wineries on your own schedule, to explore the hill-top towns located in the surroundings and stop when you please whilst  touring the gorgeous countryside of Tuscany. 
Also you’d save money. Renting a small-size car — best option for narrow roads you could drive on — would cost 50-70 euro a day. The wineries will charge a fee for wine tastings.
They could offer you a large selection of wines to taste and serve you snacks — Pecorino cheese, Prosciutto and other local specialties to pair with the wines. You should expect to pay for this service rates in the region of 10-40 euro.

Which wineries to visit? You can find on the web a large number of wineries providing tastings in Tuscany. Search wineries located in the major wine growing zones of Tuscany: Chianti, Chianti Classico, Montalcino and Montepulciano.
Most of wineries will require you to fix an appointment when planning a visit.


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»» Tips for Driving in Italy: Where You Need To Rent a Car

For most visitors, driving in Italy is a nightmare. Sometimes, to get to some important tourist destinations, you have to drive on narrow, crowded, steep roads and with lots of curves. Sometimes, parking is hard to find, particularly in the historical cities.

However, Italian drivers is what scares foreign visitors most when they plan to rent a car in Italy.
Italians tend to drive fast and just few inches next to your car. So, driving in Italy, could cause you headaches.
Unfortunately, you can enjoy visits to many important sites, only if you have a car.

The first step is looking for any car rental companies providing you the best value for your money.
If you do a search on the web with keywords such as “Cheap Car Hire Italy“, you’ll get a lot of options to choose from. When it comes to choose the size of your car, you should keep in mind that usually parking is hard to find and that you’ll drive on narrow roads.

About driving on Italian roads, the most important piece of advice I can offer is all you need to do is not be scared of noisy drivers or of people driving their cars just few inches next to your car. You have to relax yourself and take it at your own speed.

- Where you need to rent a car in Italy most.
Tuscany is one of the tourist areas where you need to rent a car. In order to be able to visit and enjoy the large number of hill top towns not well-connected by rail, located in the countryside of Tuscany, you have to drive.
Amalfi Coast is another tourist area you could better enjoy if you have a car. However you could find it challenging driving there. Places to park a car are hard to find and the roads are narrow and crowded. Local residents seem to drive even more dangerously than the average Italian driver. However Amalfi Coast offers alternatives to driving — you have a number of buses connecting all the villages along the coast.
In Umbria, you need to rent a car, particularly for visiting most of medieval hill-top towns located there — for the same reasons seen for Tuscany.
Renting a car would give you chances to better enjoy your trip to Sicily, especially if you plan visits to the Valley of Temples.
Also, you definitely need to rent a car if you plan by yourself any wine tours or visits to wineries located in the countryside.
You need not to rent a car, if your holiday in Italy is mostly about visiting the major art cities like Rome, Florence, Venice, Milan, Turin, Bologna, and Naples.


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»» Things To Do in Venice, Rome and Florence in the Fall

Early fall is a perfect time to visit the art cities in Italy. Not only you’ll be able to avoid the peak-season crowds while enjoying comfortable weather, you also have the chance to attend a number of major events held in September and October.
Below is a quick guide to some of major events held in Venice, Rome, Florence and Parma, in September and in October.

Rome - Appia Antica

- Florence
Florence hosts Wine Town Florence, a wine festival held September 24 and 25, that brings together wine, lifestyle, culture and territory. It offers music and theatrical events throughout Florence’s historical center as well as wine tastings held in cloisters and spaces inside some of the most impressive and historical Florentine buildings.

- Venice
Venice hosts a number of events appealing lovers of sculpture, gardening and music. From September through October a contemporary sculpture and installation exhibition, OPEN, will be held in the Lido area of Venice. It showcases emerging international talent.
In the weekends between Sep 25 and Oct 11, the Festival of Venetian Gardens features a number of tours, led by a team of landscape artists, historians and botanists, through some of most impressive Venice’s gardens and villas.
The International Festival of Contemporary Music offers throughout September musical theatre, theatrical concerts and micro-opera at various venues such as the Teatro La Fenice, Piccolo Teatro Arsenale and Teatro Alle Tese.

- Rome
In Rome, throughout October Appia Antica Park hosts the International Storytelling Festival, with stories, myths and legends from around the world come alive in one of the most impressive ancient Rome sites. Texts are translated and read in both Italian and English.

Finally, Verdi Festival in Parma, held in October, is an event lovers of the great music can’t miss. It is a month-long festival of operas and concerts held at the Teatro Regio and smaller venues around the city of Parma.


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»» How To Learn Italian on the Web

Travellers who have visited Italy might have noted people in that country is not so fluent in English. You could find it very challenging talking to people in the streets when you need any information. Because of that, learning the basics of Italian language could be helpful for those who plan a trip to Italy. The web offers free online tutorials and courses helping people to learn the basics of this language. Even if challenging, you could manage it by yourself.
Internet give you many options even if you need Italian translation. There is a lot of professional human translators on the web, whether freelancers or agencies employing qualified native speaker translators, offering high quality translation services.

Those who opt for learning Italian on the web, at either basic or advanced level, need to practice with native speakers. You can find a lot of websites offering such opportunities.
Try an internet search with keywords such as “Language Exchange Community” or “Practice foreign languages“. You’ll get a list of websites where you’ll find a lot of Italian native speakers who are looking for language exchange partners, particularly English native speakers.
You should choose with care your language partner. Better if you go for people well-trained in the area of language learning. You should choose people who are able to teach you, better if they are language teachers. Sometimes, in their member profile you can also find out their skills and what their job is.

Finally, those who just need to learn quickly basic sentences in Italian to feel themselves more comfortable when travelling to Italy, can opt for phrasebooks.
In the Internet, you can download audio phrasebooks for free. You’ll be able to learn quickly a ton of “Italian for survival” sentences from phrasebooks. That doesn’t mean learning the language, but it will help you when you are asking information to people in the streets or shopping or going to restaurant or driving etc…
Learning with audio phrasebook is not so time consuming, it’s worth a try.


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