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    F1S SELECTS

    Q&A: Talking Italy, Tourism,

    and A Golden Rule of Travel

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    F1RST Selects

    Q&A: Talking Italy, Tourism, and A Golden Rule of Travel

    Headed to Italy this summer or fall—read this before you go.

    F1S Advisor George Alexandrou spent five weeks in the country this summer, and dishes on who’s traveling, what to expect, and why eating local is so key.  

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    With a number of new hotels, including Baglioni Resort in Sardinia, Rocco Forte’s Villa Igiea, and Four Seasons San Domenico Palace, Taormina, both in Sicily, Italy, once an early epicenter of the Covid-19 pandemic, is poised to welcome visitors once again. But what is it like to travel to the country right now? And what can you expect once you’re there?

    We went straight to an expert to find out: F1S advisor George Alexandrou spent seven weeks in Greece and Italy earlier this summer, with the majority of that time (five weeks!) in Italy. He hit spots all across the country, from Lago do Como and Portofino to Naples, Capri, Amalfi, and Sorrento, to Rome, Tuscany, Florence, and Sicily.  

    Once home, he talked to us about everything from who you’ll likely meet on vacation this year, why patience is so important right now, and what he thinks should be a golden rule of travel. (Hint: It involves food!) Read on for all the details.

     

     

     

     

     

    F1S: We can’t wait to hear about your trip to Italy! Let’s start at the beginning: You started your European summer adventure in Greece and then headed to Italy. What was the experience like traveling between countries? Any tips you’d recommend to others as they prep for Europe?

    George Alexandrou: This year the name of the game is flexibility and patience; being on top of all the travel rules and obviously relying on a good agent. As long as you are on top of the rules, there really is no issue in terms of traveling (even between countries). You are rewarded, though, with a sense of gratitude for being able to experience all of these wonderful destinations again.

    F1S: You started your trip in Northern Italy, in Lago di Como and then Portofino. What was the experience like there? Did you find a lot of people traveling?

    GA: The big difference was the demographics of who was visiting. Just like those of us who are or have chosen to stay local and explore our own backyards this year, Europeans are doing the same. Lago di Como is practically in Switzerland’s backyard and the weekends are full of well-to-do Milanese in Portofino. That said, it was still quieter than I have ever seen it. We wandered the alleys of Bellagio practically on our own.

    F1S: Next, you headed south, to Naples and the Amalfi coast and islands. Talk to us about that—any can’t miss experiences?

    GA: I think this is where I would say to eat local and seasonally. We were lucky to have been at the right time for tuna in Sicily, for instance. I think that should be one of the golden rules of travel.

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    "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."
    George Alexandrou

    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.

     

     

     

     

     

     

    F1S: What advice can you offer fellow travelers this summer and beyond?

    GA: For me, travel has always been a privilege. And not being able to do it this past year or so proved that even more. I am so grateful to have visited some of the most beautiful places around the world and met so many wonderful people. I think if there is anything to take away after this year is that we have to respect all these beautiful places. I think we need to figure out how to both visit and give back. There are so many ways while at our destinations that we can give back either our time, our money or the choices of who we work with. (Questions to consider: Are they environmentally focused? Do they themselves give back to their communities?) For instance, one hotel in Tuscany in particular hires young adults with special needs to tend to the gardens and take care of the farm animals. They do not advertise it, but it is just a gesture that means so much, in my opinion.I definitely believe in ‘Travel with Purpose’ and I have been advocating that even pre-pandemic. Hopefully, after this difficult year, we will see a shift in how we all see the world.

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

    All those rules George mentioned? We’re on top of them. Reach out to us today to have an expert advisor plan your next Italian vacation.

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

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