Hotel Review - Borgo San Luigi (Tuscany)

The road leading to the main villa
The approach leading to the main villa of the four-star Borgo San Luigi is the stuff of Tuscan dreams: a cypress-lined driveway transports you to a classical 17th century Renaissance villa set amidst a lush, green parkland.

Ideally located between Florence and Siena, and along the via Francigena, this characterful resort was once a small rural village — a borgo — owned entirely by a wealthy landowner.

Where to take the kids in Italy?

A traveler on TripAdvisor asks,
"My husband and I would like to travel to Italy this summer with our children ages 6,5,2. I would appreciate any recommendations on family friendly areas and things to do. Thanks!"
Here's how I responded:

Hotel Review - Villa il Poggiale (Tuscany)

The main sitting room
Located just outside Florence, Villa il Poggiale is a dreamy retreat in the heart of Chianti, and it hits all the right chords in both service and style. This authentic and tasteful country estate is a place where families and children will feel completely at home.  In fact, Villa il Poggiale considers itself a family home first and foremost, and kids are enthusiastically welcomed. 

The villa itself dates back to the 16th century and was the family home of the current owners. The Vitta brothers have done a marvelous job at cultivating an atmosphere that’s elegant yet comfortable. Despite the beautiful surroundings,  it never feels stuffy or overdone. 

Book Review: Baby Travel Tips

How to Travel with a Baby or Toddler on a PlaneRick Hartwig has tapped into a deep-rooted anxiety among parents who often cite the stress of flying with young children as the one of the main reasons they don’t travel or don’t travel internationally.  Long flights, jet lag, and flight cancellations are bad enough. But our fellow passengers seem increasingly vocal about their annoyance by the mere presence of a child on their flight (How dare those babies fly to see Grandma!).

Add to this recent news headlines highlighting how airlines arereducing the family-friendliness of our skies by eliminating the courtesy of early boarding for families, not guaranteeing families be seated together, and even going so far as to restrict children from first class. It’s understandable why flying with babies or toddlers—or any child, really—creates such anxiety. 

Hotel Review - Castello di Gargonza (Tuscany)

A heavy autumn fog shrouded Castello di Gargonza on the early Sunday morning of my visit, much like a theater curtain waiting to open before a big performance. Upon my arrival, church bells in the tiny Romanesque town peeled out, almost as if to signal my arrival through the castle’s main gate.

Gorgeous short film of Basilicata

I'm in love with Basilicata right now.  Francis Ford Coppola's gone to Basilicata and taken me with him (figuratively, of course). It's unimaginably beautiful in this remote region, and if you don't believe me, maybe you'll believe your own eyes.

For anyone interested in getting off of the well-trod path, have a glimpse of this dreamy 4-minute film. When you're ready to pack your bags, contact me!

Is a City Pass Worth the Price for Families in Italy?

photo credit: Context Travel

One question that frequently comes up for me as travel consultant is whether it's worth buying a city pass. The concept of the city pass is to package free or discounted admission to several major and lesser-known monuments, museums, and special exhibitions, and frequently they include a limited-time, transit pass for busses and subways.

In Italy, these passes are most popular in the major destinations like Rome, Florence, Naples and Venice. Cities like them because they encourage visitors to use public transportation by simplifying the ticket-buying process, and they typically offer visitors the benefit of fast-tracking your entry in a city's most popular attractions--or even eliminating the queue altogether.  Passes also encourage visitors to discover lesser-known museums and attractions and seek out cultural events.

But are they worth the cost for a family?  That's the question that two journalists set out to investigate just this past week.  In some cases, the answer is a resounding yes.

Which cities offer the best City Pass value?  Click over to Budget Travel's blog post, and the U.K.'s Daily Mail article and decide for yourself.  And while this article is a little older, Jessica at Italylogue has done a very detailed analysis of Rome's City Pass in a past article.

What's your experience?  Did you purchase a city pass and did you think it was worth it?  Share your comments with other family travelers.