Postcards from Italy

Travel Tips

A Look Back: Our Top Blog Posts from 2020

Let’s be honest: no one wants to take a trip down memory lane and look back at 2020. It was a year best forgotten - and, in many ways, could be considered a year that time forgot - spent by many of us at home, in (ahem) leisure wear, dreaming about the day that we could once again travel across the world or even down the block with peace of mind.

That said, upon closer examination we should recognize that 2020 wasn’t a total wash and some positive things did happen, both for us here at CIUTravel and for the world in general. And in the spirit of closing chapters, as well as out of pure curiosity, we thought we would look back and trace our top blog post each month (based on traffic, some of the winners are from the pre-2020 archives) to see what our readers were interested in during the twists and turns of the past year. The results didn’t disappoint!


“I think there's something here with what people were searching,” mused Brian, once we saw the top posts listed. “Before the pandemic, ‘how to’ traveling guides were popular, then people started cooking at home and taking virtual dream trips once their real trips were postponed. By the summer, we had all turned to cocktail hour, astronomy, and food to get by. Then, a little more travel dreaming with Italy tour guides, the novelty of our Cantina Direct launch, and finally ‘I've got to make fish for Christmas!’ searches.”

Join us now in this virtual stroll back in time through our top monthly posts from 2020:

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Keeping Cool Like an Italian

In normal times (remember those?), the lion’s share of our clients scheduled their Italy trips during the summer months. Though summer is an ideal time to visit—with long hours of sunlight for sightseeing, clear days for exploring outdoor archaeological sites and medieval villages, and balmy evenings for dinners alfresco—these torrid months also bring soaring Mediterranean temperatures and scorching sun that can be uncomfortable for much of the day, especially in the south and major cities.

(Photo by CIUTravel via Flickr)

Air conditioning is slowly becoming more common in Italy, but a surprising number of sights and businesses still do not have any sort of cooling system beyond open windows and fans. Indeed, many Italians avoid air-conditioning like the plague, believing it causes all sorts of ailments from stiff necks to digestive issues. Instead, Italians tend to use a number of life hacks to combat the heat, from how they dress to how they schedule their days.

ice-cream-tower-montefalco(Photo by CIUTravel via Flickr)

You may not be headed to Italy this summer, but the Italian heat is quite probably headed to you now that we are in July. Sure, you could crank up the a/c for the next few months to stay cool, but for the sake of the environment—and as a fun cultural experiment—we suggest you try some of these tricks of the trade from the Bel Paese to make it through the dog days of summer.

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Avoiding the Crowds in Switzerland

After a few weeks of admiring the view from your living room window, many of you are probably dreaming of when you can get back to exploring the world. Switzerland has begun a phased reopening - a bit ahead of the original schedule as the Swiss Covid-19 response seems to have slowed the spread and impact of the virus on the country. All businesses and institutions must put in place a set of precautionary measures and everyone is encouraged to continue observing hygiene and social distancing rules. International access at this point is with some countries in the European Union and Schengen area, with other countries added over time. Switzerland may be an ideal vacation destination as early as this summer. There are plenty of outdoor and open air activities to experience a safer vacation in a beautiful landscape.

switzerland-cr-maria-landers (Photo by CIUTravel via Flickr)

Though Switzerland does have a number of world-class museums and other cultural attractions, the country’s sweeping Alpine landscapes are the true headliners. By spending much of your visit exploring the great outdoors, you can sidestep most situations that require close confinement and enjoy greater peace of mind during your trip. Here are a few crowd-free ideas for exploring the peaks and lakes of Switzerland.

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A Blast in the Past: Tips for Visiting Pompeii and Herculaneum

Pompeii and Herculaneum are two of the most spectacular ancient Roman sites in the world, both buried by the eruption of Mount Vesuvius in 79 AD and frozen in time for the past 2,000 years by the ash, mud, and other debris that sealed and protected the ruins from the ravages of time. Excavations began during the 18th century, and still today new marvels are routinely uncovered at both sites, including colorful frescoes, intricate mosaics, and unique architectural details or artifacts that provide a window into the ancient world.

Pompei with Vesuvius(Photo by CIUTravel via Flickr)

Whether or not you’re a Roman history buff, these two archaeological sites offer a fascinating glimpse into western history and civilization. That said, with their vast size and wealth of artistic, archaeological, and anthropological treasures, Pompeii and Herculaneum can be daunting to explore on your own. Here are some tips for visiting these two ancient cities to ensure you get the most from your time there without succumbing to the heat, crowds, labyrinthine layout, and general information overload.

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What’s New in Italy for 2020: Openings, Destinations, and Trends

Last week, we took a look back at our top blog posts of 2019 to see what Italy travel topics were most interesting to our clients and readers, but now it’s time to look ahead to the coming year and the hot new openings, newly discovered destinations, and travel trends taking over the Bel Paese. Now is probably also a good time to announce our inclusion in Wendy Perrin's WOW List for 2020. The WOW List is a curated collection of the world's best travel planners and we're honored to be included.

So, if you’re planning a trip to Italy in 2020 and are looking to add something new to your itinerary, here are a few ideas for things to see and experience over the next 12 months:

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5 Reasons Why You Shouldn’t Visit Italy

Italy is one of the most popular vacation destinations on the planet, a haven for millions who swoon for its cuisine, culture, and climate. Though the Bel Paese is our first love, we know that it may not be for everyone ...Italy poses unique challenges and hurdles that may be daunting for a first-time visitor.

bacco-felice-cr-brian-dore(Photo by CIUTravel via Flickr)

So, how do you know if you should set your sights on Italy for your next trip? Here are a few reasons why you may want to take a pass... (We’re just kidding...never pass up on Italy! Here’s how to make the trip a delight for even the most cagey visitor...)

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Italy for Kids: Step Two (Get Organized)

The academic year is officially at its halfway point, and your kids are probably already looking ahead to their summer break. Though it seems a long way off, school will be out before you know is the time to start planning for your summer vacation, especially if you've decided that this is the year for an unforgettable family trip to Italy.

Though Italy is remarkably kid-friendly, planning overseas travel to a country with a different language and culture is slightly more complicated than planning a jaunt to Disneyland, and to make your trip memorable for all the right reasons takes a bit of realistic preparation and mindful choices. A few weeks ago, we talked about
how to get your kids excited (and informed) for their upcoming departure. Here, let's talk about how to approach the “grown-up” aspects of your trip—logistics and itinerary—to maximize the fun and minimize the stress.

Edge of the World(Photo by Concierge in Umbria via Flickr)

From accommodations to activities, Italy can please families of any size, style, and pace. Here are a few tips and suggestions to ensure a flawless family holiday in the Bel Paese:

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Italy for Kids: Step One (Get Psyched)

Forget Disneyland or Las Vegas...if you want the family trip of a lifetime, Italy is your dream destination. With its mix of iconic sights (The Colosseum! The Leaning Tower of Pisa! Venice!), an incredibly kid-friendly culture, and complete lack of judgement about letting your children subsist on pizza and gelato for days on end, the Bel Paese is where you can strike the perfect balance between parent-approved education and kid-friendly fun.

(Photo by CIUTravel via Flickr)

Like any family vacation, however, the overall success of the trip is dependent on a bit of advance planning, itinerary tweaking, and realistic compromise. Kids (and adults) can get overwhelmed with a new language, culture, schedule, and menu...the best way to avoid general crankiness or complete meltdowns is to take this into account when planning your trip and gearing up for your departure.

Young travelers at a vineyard, Tuscany(Photo by CIUTravel via Flickr)

We have a number of recommendations to help prepare for a family trip to Italy that we’ll be sharing over the next few months. Here, we begin with one of the most important and, luckily, enjoyable: getting your kids excited about Italy through reading!

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Accommodations in Italy: Some Basic Rules of Thumb

There is an endless variety of accommodations in Italy, from rural farm holidays to cosmopolitan designer hotels. Which you choose depends on a number of factors, including your budget, travel style, preference for amenities or independence, group size, and even where in the country you'll be visiting.

Grand Hotel Tremezzo(Grand Hotel Tremezzo - Lago di Como)

Here are a few general rules to keep in mind when deciding on accommodations:

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