Italy! It’s a country that’s on just about everyone’s “bucket list”. Sure you want to go to Italy to see the sights, visit museums, and of course eat, eat, eat! But is taking selfies in front of the Vatican or the Colosseum, or grabbing a slice of pizza and a cup of gelato on the run really your idea of an Italian vacation? If it is then go for it! But if you want to really experience Italy read on! Here are 5 unique activities to really experience Italy!
Some of these activities are seasonal, but hey, you haven’t booked yet right? So plan your Italy vacation to be able to take part in at least one of these 5 Unique Activities to Really Experience Italy!
Think Lucy and Ethel stomping grapes in one of the “I Love Lucy” shows and plan your Italian vacation between late August and very early October. That’s the Grape Harvest season or Vendemmia in most of Italy.
The exact dates vary from year to year and from place to place, depending on the weather. But it’s safe to say that by September the grape harvest is taking place in most of the countries vineyards.
Many towns and vineyards throughout the country host grape harvest festivals. Vineyards open their gates and fields to the public for some fun, food, and of course drink. For the price of an admission ticket you can wander thru rows of grape vines, pick grapes, stomp them in huge wooden vats, then enjoy locally prepared food from antipasti to dolci, and of course taste the various wines the vineyard or winery offers. Several glasses of wine are usually included in the ticket price but you can buy bottles to take home or drink during the event at the vineyard. Trust me there will be more than enough wine to go around!
Click here to learn more about Grape Harvest in Italy!
Olive Groves & Olive Oil Factory
If you find yourself in Italy sometime between mid-October to early-December you can take part in the olive harvest. The craze may have been jump started by the popular book Under the Tuscan Sun, but there is something to be said about spending the day in the olive groves specially during harvest season.
My husband and his relatives have many fond childhood memories of warm fall days spent picking olives in olive groves where they grew up. Of course picking olives is outdoor work that builds up an appetite so a hearty picnic lunch is definitely a must have.
If you’re not the outdoorsy type then take a tour of the olive oil factory. It’s pretty interesting. You’ll learn how they take those olives and cold press them into incredible olive oil. Did you know that mills are communal mills called Frantoio where most of the local growers take their olives to be pressed? And did you know that olives are pressed only during the harvest season and the oil is stored to be bottled during the year?
You’ll learn all about the pressing and bottling process if you take the short factory tour which of course ends with an olive oil tasting and some time to wander around the gift shop!
Tour and tasting at the Bonamini Frantoio in Northern Italy.
Click here for more information!
Pizza & Wine Pairings
So you’ve been to a wine tasting and maybe even a pizza tasting, there are all sorts of tours around Italy that offer them. But have you been to a Pizza & Wine Pairing at the farm and vineyards that grow the food you’re tasting?
Pizza & Wine Pairings in a beautiful hillside setting on a farm built on top of a 17th. century Benedictine convent is truly a memorable event! You can do this at the Fattoria dell’Eremo outside of Padua in northern Italy. The hosts are friendly and the food and wine are amazing! They will cater to your dietary needs just let them know your preferences.
Click here for more info!
Italian Cooking Class
Yes there are pizza making classes and pasta making classes, they’re all great; but for a truly unique experience take an Italian cooking class at a local residence!
You’ll make everything from antipasti to dessert! Best of all you get to eat what you cooked!
Email me for more information about this cooking class in Northern Italy.
Every Italian town or city has at least one market day. For a truly unique local experience wander a local market or two.
Markets are usually held at the town’s main square or in the larger cities like Rome the markets spring up along side streets around town. You’ll find everything from fruits and vegetables to household goods, and clothing and shoes at these outdoor markets.
Some towns have specific days for specific vendors. Like in Vicenza food vendors are open in the main square and around town on Tuesdays; Thursdays are for clothing and household goods with a few food vendors around; and the last Sunday of the month is for the antique market. So find out what days are market days in the area you’ll be visiting.
Markets are a great place to find an inexpensive lunch. You can grab a loaf of bread from the bakery stall then meat and cheese from the deli vendor. Top it all off with some fruit and a bottle of wine and you’ve go the makings of a picnic lunch!