F1S: You also spent time in some of the most beloved areas: Rome, Tuscany, and Florence. What do you think is key when it comes to visiting Italy?
GA: Italy is so vast with so many different experiences. I think the hardest thing to do (especially for first-timers) is the less is more motto. Do Sicily on its own. Explore northern Italy including Milan and the lakes. But do not try to recreate National Lampoon’s European Vacation. I find the best experiences are the ones that sometimes were never planned—and if you only have one day in Rome you may miss out on something magical while there. Also, try lesser-known spots: How about Umbria instead of Tuscany. Have you been to Basilicata? There is more to a country than the perceived highlights.
F1S: Any insider tips you can share for others who might be traveling to Italy soon? Was there anything you found surprising?
GA: I can say that the travel industry is excited to see everyone return. We were warmly greeted wherever we went—and we encountered small acts of kindness that made our day. For example, on Crete, one of our guides was so excited to have us, she spent an entire extra afternoon with us showing us other items not previously planned. While this wasn’t in Italy, we encountered similar enthusiasm there, too. But again, patience is necessary this year as not everything has returned to 100 percent, from airline routes, to opening hours, to service levels. Life is not a switch, so it will take some time before everything is running again.