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How to Experience Italy Like a Local

Posted in on Monday, March 31nd, 2015

Story by: bconnelly | Travel Writer

VBT Bicycling and Walking Vacations Provides Tips on Off the Beaten Path Activities to Immerse Travelers into Italian Culture
BRISTOL, VT — February 27, 2015 — Known as the Italy Experts, VBT Bicycling & Walking Vacations  has been offering active vacations throughout Italy for over 20 years. From the scenic coastlines of Puglia and Sicily to the rolling hills of Tuscany, Italy is a destination that simply can’t be experienced from the window of a tour bus. With eleven bicycling and walking vacations in Italy, VBT President Gregg Marston has curated tips on how to experience Italy like a local:

1) Go behind closed doors to discover daily life
A defining characteristic of the VBT active travel experience is when their travelers are invited into the homes of area residents. Residing in small villages and towns, guests are invited to share conversation, a native dish and even a glass of wine. Some of the local residents that travelers might meet include:

- The Ginori Lisci family, of the world-famous Italian housewares brand, will prepare a meal at the Ginori villa while sharing stories of close family friend and famed Italian composer Giacomo Puccini, who lived nearby on the La Bella Toscana: Lucca, Montecatini and Pisa cycling tour—which is new for 2015.

- VBT guests visit the country home of Chicca Maione, founder of Cooking in Tuscany—a nonprofit organization that spreads Italian cooking worldwide—on The Tuscan Coast bike tour. Maione will inspire travelers with a one-hour cooking class before serving the completed dishes at a group dinner under her pergola.

2) Shop like an Italian
There’s no better way to sample the fresh produce and hand-made goods of each destination than to visit a village on market day. VBT guests will have free time to chat with local vendors with the help of VBT’s native trip leaders, while perusing a variety of items like sweet juicy plums, creamy goat cheeses, savory olives and a variety of freshly-baked multigrain breads.

- On the Walking the Italian Lakes tour, travelers will take in the beautiful alpine scenery at the weekly market in Lenno where they’ll have the opportunity to sample locally-made cheese, purchase hand-made jewelry from artisans and get to know the community.

- After cycling through ancient olive groves from Savelletri to Monopoli, travelers can sample olive oil, fish, wine and almonds while strolling the maze of street vendors in Monopoli’s old city center on the Puglia: Italy’s Undiscovered Coast bike tour.

3) Stay in an Agiturismo and other boutique properties
Sleep in a farmhouse-turned-inn and other boutique properties for the perfect respite after an active day of cycling or walking the Italian countryside. VBT guests can truly unwind at these family-owned accommodations:

- Hotel La Collegiata, located just outside of San Gimignano, is an old monastery with a large park, Italian garden and swimming pool. With only 21-rooms, this hotel is the accommodation for VBT’s small groups on the Tuscan Hill Towns by Bike tour.

- The Park Hotel Schoenblick in Riscone is located at the foothills of the Plan de Corones mountain ridge. Roam the large garden and take a dip in the swimming pool fed by unspoiled mountain springs on the Italy: Cycling the Dolomite Valleys trip.

4) Meet local farmers and chefs
To learn about Italian culinary traditions, every VBT vacation includes most meals as well as cooking demonstrations, culinary classes, or market visits to provide an introduction to the regional cuisine. Travelers can enjoy flavorful explorations such as:

- Visit a family-owned, organic farm and learn to braid mozzarella in a hands-on demonstration in the village of Torca on The Amalfi Coast & Capri walking tour.

-  Head into the kitchen at Hotel Kallikoros and prepare authentic eggplant parmigiana and cannolis under the direction of the house chef on Sicily: Biking the Southern Coastal Villages.

- On the Tuscany by the Sea bicycling vacation, learn how to make traditional Tuscan cantucci, a buttery almond cookie best enjoyed dipped in sweet Vin Santo wine.

Experience Italy like a local and reserve a VBT bicycling or walking vacation by March 31, 2015 and save up to $400 per person on select April through September departures using booking code VBT1518. To request a catalog or reserve a VBT active vacation, visit or call 877-395-5290.

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