Summer is a spectacular time to come to Europe. Days are long and the Mediterranean sun is plentiful, but this also means that you are on holiday with the rest of Europe. It’s considered “high season” for a reason – crowds are at a yearly maximum and as the temperature rises, so can your stress level.
This doesn’t mean you need to stay home, however. Not all of us have the flexibility with work, family and life to travel in the shoulder season or low season. Many of us want or need to make our European travel dreams come true in the heart of the summer.
This month, as we are starting to get quite busy with summer bookings, we wanted to focus on some alternative itineraries for clients coming in the peak of peak season. It doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice a trip, but it means planning well and thoughtfully arranging stops and accommodations designed to keep your vacation stress-free and enjoyable. These are trips we have actually done in the past for clients that were thrilled (and the majority of them have repeat trips in the works!), so if you are thinking that enjoying the European summer season is impossible in these busy months, it’s not – with some expert planning from Bella Vita, your travel dreams can come true.
Italy’s busiest time of year centers around Ferragosto, August 15th, which is when almost all Italians take holidays (sometimes the whole month of August!). This means that you aren’t taking a vacation with others from North America with kids off from school, but also with the whole country of Italy as they head to the beaches, the mountains or the hills to relax.
For a Texan family of 3 with a small child, this was the perfect time for them to come on vacation, but with a little one in the heat of August, they wanted to make sure that they were able to relax on the beach but not miss some spectacular sites in Sicily and Puglia. To maximize their time while keeping the trip easy for a child under 5, we recommended avoiding the cement heat of the big cities but instead focusing on some of our personal favorite beach resorts along the seaside while adding in some fun tours for the whole family. Starting in Sicily, they enjoyed a few days in one of our absolute favorite luxury hotels in historic Taormina. Small enough that it’s easily walkable with a child, but full of charming angles and views, history and sites that make a few days easy for everyone. Some fun activities that we added on were a wine tasting and private guide that brought them around Mount Etna on their way to their next stop – Siracusa – so we didn’t lose a day.
In Siracusa, the whole family loved a private market tour and cooking class. Even the smallest “clients” love getting involved and helping prepare lunch. As we wanted to keep them relaxed, a short flight to the breathtaking region of Puglia had them at another spectacular 5-star hotel, this time a luxury masseria that provided a perfect, tranquil sanctuary as the August 15th holiday approached. The hotel even hosted a party for its guests that night, that wound up being a highlight of their trip. A day on the boat exploring the clear blue sea and plenty of free time in their rental car exploring at their own pace made this vacation the perfect way to not just survive but enjoy one of the busiest periods of the year.
Another client went the opposite direction – literally! This middle aged couple from the East Coast explored the extreme north of Italy, exploring its pristine mountain lakes, crystal clear spring water and refreshing mountain breeze as the perfect way to avoid the summer madness! They combined Italy’s northern lake district together with Switzerland which is a top destination to escape the madness and heat of Europe’s major cities. In Italy, Lake Garda, Lake Como, Lake Maggiore offer travelers everything they could possibly want for a relaxing summer trip mixed with adventure. Since they like outdoor actives, this was a great place to hike, mountain bike, climb and try all kinds of water sports.
After the lakes, we perfectly combined their trip with a few stops in the next-door Switzerland! The convenience that the Zurich airport offers travelers is a huge plus with many direct flights from the US. Idilic Swiss mountain towns and cosmopolitan cities offer summer travelers the perfect combination of relaxation and culture. As music lovers, the Montreux Jazz festival and the Lucerne Festival were an absolute dream! They had the opportunity to experience the worlds top orchestras and conductors in one of the most beautiful Swiss cities. Only a few hours away from Lucerne is the Swiss Riviera where they could promenade along the lake lined with French cafes. The Swiss understand luxury and service, which our clients were able to experience in these stunning mountain resorts.
These are some “tried and true” suggestions on how to experience the best of Italy and Switzerland without losing your cool (literally) in the August heat and madness of high season. Do any of these itineraries sound like your dream trip? Contact us to learn more about how we can customize an Italian or Swiss holiday for you!