Italy is Irresistible

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Vacations don’t often get much dreamier than a trip to Italy. This country’s rich history and culture, stunning vistas and—quite possibly most of all—its delectable cuisine, make it the perfect backdrop for any vacation at any time of year. Italy is also chock-full of tours and hotel accommodations to please any type of traveler—from the foodies and photographers, to the families, and even those whose only demand is plenty of time to sit back and take in the scenery.

If your clients already have Italy in mind, Collette Vacations just announced an offer for helping travel agents earn bonus commission on their Italy bookings. The Double My Bookings incentive is aimed to get travel agents qualified faster for the company’s 5 For $500 booking, which ends April 30.

With the Double My Bookings incentive, any booking departing in May or June 2011 counts as a double booking towards Collette’s 5 For $500 travel agent incentive program. 5 For $500, launched in January, rewards agents with $500 when they make either five Italy bookings or book 10 passengers by April 30 for travel in 2011.

For more information, call (800) 611-3361 or visit collettevacations.com.

Foodies can delight in several Italian culinary tours being offered by Food & Wine Trails for the 2011 season. On the Cinque Terre Walk and Nosh itinerary, for instance, travelers can explore the Cinque Terra region of Liguria. This 5-day tour, which departs Sept. 11, includes visits to the five villages of the Cinque Terre, where participants will walk trails and paths with a professional hiking guide and historian, and then delve into the regional cuisine with an American cookbook author who lives full time in Italy.

Widely considered to be one of the most beautiful walking regions in Europe, Liguria also has a regional cuisine with wonderful local products such as a unique style of white wine, anchovies, fruity olive oils, and aromatic pesto. Land-only rates run approximately $4,000 pp dbl.

Food & Wine Trails is also offering a 10-day V. Sattui Winery Italy Cruise departing on Nov. 12. Hosted by Dario Sattui, a fourth generation Napa Valley winemaker whose family emigrated from Italy, the cruise (aboard an Oceania Cruises vessel) will offer wine-lovers a chance to explore the wines of the Italian Peninsula. Included are visits to five Italian ports—overnights in Venice, Florence and Rome, plus stops in Kotor, Dubrovnik and Monte Carlo.

On board the ship, Sattui will lead tastings of his Italian-influenced wines and host a winemaker’s dinner. Also offered will be optional family-style lunches and wine tastings at top Italian wine estates. Prices begin at $3,449 pp dbl including airfare from 20 U.S. cities. For more information, visit foodandwinetrails.com.

For photo enthusiasts, Dolomite Mountains, an Italian adventure travel company, is offering its first-ever photo safari hosted by photographer Randy Jay Braun. Taking place June 27-July 4, this active sunrise-to-sunset itinerary includes an ongoing hands-on technical seminar with Braun, as well as a visit to a working farm in the Ladino, trekking through high mountain villages and chairlift rides to capture displays of alpine flowers below.

Rates start at $4,650 pp dbl and include accommodations, regional cuisine and roundtrip transfers from Venice’s Marco-Polo International airport. For more information, visit dolomitemountains.com.

If your clients are traveling with little ones, recommend a vacation with Select Italy, which recently partnered with Alphabet Kids to create a kid-friendly Italian getaway.

The Amazing Family Tour is a 6-night package that explores Rome, Florence and Venice. It includes an array of activities, including a gondola ride through Venice’s city canals, as well as a guided city tour; a walking tour of Florence, including stops at Michelangelo’s statue of David and a local farmer’s market; and a guided tour of Rome with visits to the Sistine Chapel and Vatican museum.

Additionally, families can enjoy activities like a mask-making workshop and a cooking class where they will learn how to make Italian-style pizza. Rates start at $2,844 pp based on two adults and two children ages 3-14. For more information, visit selectitaly.com.

Sometimes vacationers wish for no itinerary at all, and for these travelers, offering a hotel close to all the sights can be just what they need. In Florence, recommend a stay at the Grand Hotel Villa Cora, which recently reopened after a 3-year restoration.

Made up of three luxurious structures—the Main VillaVillino Eugenia and La Follie—the property includes 46 guestrooms and suites, a gym, a pool and two restaurants, all surrounded by a park on a hill in the center of Florence. The hotel’s spa, meanwhile, boasts a sauna, hammam, hydromassage area, and a beauty and wellness center.