Magical Italy

Sept. 24-Oct. 1, 2017  |  8 days / 7 nights |  $3,595

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“I spent about six-weeks in Italy in the summer of 2016 researching and preparing for this trip —- days walking the small streets of Florence, exploring the hill towns of Tuscany, testing cappuccino’s at neighborhood cafes, finding the best spots to watch the sunsets, discovering local foods, soaking up the art, history and culture —– and so much more. Italy is truly living ‘la dolce vita.’ Please join me on this trip as I share my favorite corners, experiences, cafes and friends with you.” Mary —- Living Big trip host for this adventure. To learn more about Mary, click here.

Trip Agenda

Day 1 – September 24
Your trip host will meet you at Florence’s International Airport and escort you back to the hotel. Spend the rest of the day relaxing or getting your first glimpse of the city known historically as the heart of the Renaissance, but today known for its art, culture, food and magnificent sights. Over dinner (and during our first of many gelato stop + strolls) you’ll meet the other women on the trip and learn more about the adventure ahead. Dinner included.

Day 2 – September 25
A local guide will take us on a morning walking tour to learn about the city’s past, present and culture. Afterwards we’ll enjoy lunch at a restaurant that represents the emerging food culture of Florence. Since jet lag will still be in full affect, we’ll enjoy some free time in the afternoon (AKA rest time/cappuccino time) and then meet up again in the early evening to enjoy the first (of many) Florence sunsets. After sunset and dinner we’ll make our way to a historic church in the Oltrarno neighborhood where we’ll enjoy the beautiful sights and sounds of an Italian opera. And another gelato stop + stroll on our way back to the hotel. All meals included.

Day 3 – September 26
We’ll start our day by paying a visit to the beautiful Cattedrale di Santa Maria del Fiore, and then climb way up to Brunelleschi’s Cupola that sits on top of the cathedral. There are more steps up to the top then you’ll want to know in advance, but the view of the interior frescos and of Florence from the very top will take your breath away (or take away any breath you have left from walking all the way to the top!) After exploring this area we’ll make our way to The Basilica di Santa Croce, and then pay a visit to a leather school built adjacent to the Basilica in the 1930’s as a way to give orphans of the war the means to learn a practical trade that would generate an income. We’ll spend the afternoon at the school learning the trade ourselves, and leave with a leather bound book cover that we’ll each make with our own hands! The rest of the afternoon and evening are your own to rest, relax, shop, explore, tour the famous Uffizi Art Gallery or anything else on your Florence wish list! Breakfast and lunch included. 

Day 4 – September 27
Today will be an early start, but it’s all in the name of Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese! We’ll make our way by train to Bologna to join a team of experts on all-things-DOP (Denominazione di Origine Protetta / Protected Designation of Origin) —- which is the local designation given to foods that are made from start to finish in one territory. Our guide will take us to a local Parmigiano-Reggiano factory (sampling included;) an acetaia where Balsamic Vinegar of Modena is made (sampling included;) and then to a local prosciutto factory (sampling included, obvi.) Save room along the way for a delicious farm-house lunch. After a full day of touring, sampling, learning, eating and drinking we’ll make our way back to Florence. Breakfast and lunch included

Day 5 – September 28
Today will be another early morning —- but in a few hours time you’ll be standing at the doorstep of the Italian Riviera in Cinque Terra (insert a collective ahhhhhh.) The views are enough to stop you in your tracks. But don’t stop too long, as we’ll set out on a three hour hike from Vernazza to Monterosso. After the hike we’ll enjoy a beautiful seaside lunch and then explore the coastline and neighboring small towns by boat. When our bellies are full, our legs are tired and mind is full from the beautiful scenery we’ll make our way back to Florence. All meals included.

Day 6 – September 29
No trip to Florence is complete without a visit to The Galleria dell’Accademia di Firenze to see Michelangelo’s sculpture of the David. So we’ll start our morning there before all the crowds roll in, and then leave the afternoon open to shop, wander and explore before we meet up later for a hands-on cooking class complete with pasta from scratch, wine and more. Breakfast and dinner included.

Day 7 – September 30
On this final full-day of the trip we’re making our way out to Tuscany to see/taste/drink/experience the charming small hill towns divided between rolling hills of grape vines. We’ll stop at a few local wineries for tours and tastings, and then make our way into a few hill towns to experience the local art and culture, and enjoy a fantastic final meal together. All meals included.

Day 8 – October 1
Swap phone numbers, emails and photos. Head home or start the next leg of your journey. Breakfast included. 

Trip itinerary is subject to change but will always maintain a spirit of adventure and diverse activities. Questions? Check out the FAQs (click here) for this trip.

Frequently Asked Questions

Who is going on the trip?

This trip is made up of 10 women: 9 guests and your Trip Host. A major tenet of Living Big is to make international travel more accessible to women who don’t want to go at it alone. To learn more about the philosophy, click here.

Can I join the trip solo? Or can I invite a few of my friends to join me on the trip?

Yes and yes to both questions! Some people join Living Big trips on their own; there to make friends and see the world, and others join Living Big trips because they want to share the experience with their friends, sisters, mothers or daughters and don’t want to do any of the planning!

You’ll find that the trips are structured in a way that you’ll have a good amount of group time, but also a fair amount of independent time to explore on your own, with new friends you met in the group, or with the friends joining you on the trip.

Who is the Trip Host? And what is her role?

On this trip your Trip Host is Mary. To learn more about Mary, click here.

The role of the Trip Host is to be there to make sure everything goes as smooth as possible, even when the inevitable travel bumps come our way – such as an unexpected rainy afternoon, traffic, missing luggage, etc. But more importantly, to be a resource that will give you the space you need to really enjoy the experience. So if throughout the trip there is something your Trip Host can do to support you in this regard – please let her know. For example, if you’re not feeling well, having trouble sleeping, not getting along with someone, not satisfied with something, etc. please please share these concerns. No one needs a ‘Mother’ on this trip – that’s not our intention, but if there are small adjustments that can be made to create more space for you to enjoy the experience —- the Trip Host will see what she can do!

How much does the trip cost? And what is included/excluded in this price?

The total price per person is $3,595. This includes the following:

  • Planning: all trip logistics, including pre-trip negotiations with all hotels and vendors, onsite coordination, useful information leading up to your trip such as advice on what to pack, how much to budget for spending money, a cheat sheet for learning the local language, advice on local currency, etc.
  • Hotels: 7 nights accommodation based on two people sharing a room.
  • Meals: see the daily itinerary for meals included each day. On some days, you’ll be on your own for a meal. Some alcohol, water and snacks are also included.
  • Transport: all ground transportation, including airport transfers and hired ground transportation, are included.
  • Activities: all activities, unless specified in the itinerary, are included.
  • Gratuities for all local guides.

The following expenses are not included in the total trip price:

  • Round-trip airfare is not included, but gives you flexibility in using airline reward miles or to extend your trip as you wish. Each guest is responsible for organizing their own airfare and transportation to the stated start and end cities. You will be required to share flight details at least 8 weeks before the adventure commences. Inbound flights should arrive on September 24 before 5PM and depart after anytime on October 1.
  • A set amount of wine and beer will be purchased with each hosted dinner, but each guest will be responsible for alcoholic beverages beyond this amount.
  • While not required, each guest is encouraged to consult their existing insurance policy to determine what is covered while on the trip, and if needed, secure an individual insurance policy for the trip.
  • Any additional activities you want to book along the way or outside of the coordinated group trip: spa visits, private tours, etc.
  • Spending money, additional tips for the Trip Leader and excess luggage fees.

What are the health and physical fitness requirements to join on the trip?

Guests should take personal responsibility to ensure they are physically able and healthy to participate in all group trip activities, such as hiking on uneven surfaces for durations up to 4 hours, climbing up and down up to 500 steps, riding in trains and mini-vans for up to four hours at one time, walking on uneven surfaces, carrying luggage, and getting on/off various modes of public transportation. The trip is moderately strenuous and best enjoyed by anyone who is physically fit and enjoys active days. You should consult with a medical doctor to determine if you are healthy and physically able to participate.

Is there a minimum/maximum age to participate?

Women over the age of 21, that are physically able to participate in the trip itinerary, are welcome to join for this adventure. Please see the detailed itinerary and FAQ on minimum physical fitness requirements to learn more.

What should I do to secure my spot on the trip?

The first step is to request a spot, which you can do that online (click here.) Once you reserve your spot, we’ll reach out to you to schedule a call to review the trip details, get to know you, give you a chance to ask questions about Living Big, etc. If after this conversation you’re on board to join for the adventure, you’ll receive a link to the registration page where you can formally register, submit your first payment and sign the trip waiver. Please note: registration is taken on a first-come, first-serve basis.

Is airfare included in the trip fee?

Round-trip airfare is not included in the trip fee, but this gives you flexibility in using airline reward miles, to extend your trip any way you like, and to select the routes and airlines you prefer. Each guest is responsible for organizing their own airfare and transportation to the stated start and end cities. You will be required to share flight details at least 8 weeks before the adventure commences.

What do I need to know before I book my flight?

Each guest is responsible for organizing their own airfare and transportation to the stated start and end cities. You will be required to share flight details at least 8 weeks before the adventure commences. Inbound flights should arrive on September 24 before 5PM and depart after anytime on October 1. Florence’s airport code is FLR.

Will I be sharing a hotel room? Can I choose my roommate?

Yes, everyone will be sharing a room with at least one other person. In most instances, you will have your own bed. You can request a roommate preference on forms that will be included in your Trip Packet, which you will receive approximately 12 weeks before the adventure begins.

Can you tell me about the type of accommodations we'll be staying at?

You betcha! We’ll be staying in Florence for the duration of this trip at a three-star property in the Oltrarno neighborhood. The hotel does have an elevator, but you may need to carry your luggage up about 3-5 steps to reach the elevator, and will need to carry your luggage to/from taxi’s.

What kind of ground transportation will we use?

We will be doing a good amount of exploration by foot, but also in local taxi’s, on local trains and in hired mini-vans. And we will be riding in a boat on the day we visit Cinque Terre. The train rides will be about 45-60 minutes on one route, and about 90 minutes on a second route, and we’ll be in the hired mini-vans for driving routes that are up to 2.5 hours each route (but we’ll stop along the way to stretch and use the restroom!)

What should I pack?

Prior to the trip, you’ll be given a packing checklist and advised on what type of clothes and supplies you’ll need.

Do I need to carry my luggage?

Yes, plan on carrying your bags to/from the airport, on/off buses and vans and in/out of the hotel.

I don't speak the local language. Is that OK?

Don’t worry about mastering the lingo to join our trips. When traveling internationally, locals do appreciate it when visitors know at least a few key phrases. We’ll provide a quick language lesson and cheat sheet.

What will the weather be like?

Weather in September is relatively warm, with temperatures averaging between 55-75 degrees fahrenheit. There might be occasional light rain and winds.

What if I don't need every hotel/activity/etc. on my trip?

Unfortunately, refunds aren’t possible for unused hotel rooms, meals or activities. The total trip price is a package deal; credits are not given for services not used. Please contact Living Big (click here) if you have questions or concerns about any trip activities due to a physical condition. If there is a reasonable alternative, we can explore it.

How do I communicate information like allergies, injuries, etc?

About 12 weeks before we begin our adventure, you’ll receive your Trip Packet. It includes forms, questionnaires and waivers that you’ll need to submit no later than 8 weeks before the trip begins. The forms in the Trip Packet allow you to share these important details. Living Big will provide meals as outlined in the official trip itinerary and will work with you to try and accommodate special dietary requirements; however, Living Big is not required to provide such meals, supplements and/or any special requests beyond what is outlined in official trip itinerary.

Do I need a U.S. Passport or Visa for this trip?

Yes, a U.S. Passport is required to visit Italy. Your U.S. Passport must be valid for at least six months beyond your intended departure date and have two blank pages for entry stamps. A Visa is not required. But please note that entry requirements may change at any time. While Living Big will attempt to keep you informed of changes, you should take personal responsibility to ensure you can satisfy entry requirements. Click here to learn more about entering Italy with a U.S. Passport. If you plan to visit another country before or after your Living Big trip, please consult the following site for individual entry requirements: click here

Do I have to pay for the entire trip up front or can I make payments?

No, you do not need to pay for the entire trip up front. (Although you can, if you prefer.) Check out the Trip Pricing tab (click here) for payment details.

What if I need to cancel the trip?

If you decide you need to cancel your trip the following refund schedule applies upon written notice of your cancellation:

  • Cancellations made on or before May 24, 2017:
    • Your trip deposit is nonrefundable. If you paid in full for the trip the deposit is $500.
    • You will be reimbursed 50% of what you have paid to date, less the nonrefundable deposit.
    • As an example, if you made a $500 deposit, then made two additional payments each for $250 (total paid = $1,000) then the amount you would receive back is $250.
  • Cancellations made on or after May 25, 2017:
    • All payments made to date are nonrefundable.

Travel insurance helps protect against last-minute cancellation, trip interruption, and to cover medical treatment or emergency medical evacuation during your trip. We strongly recommend you purchase travel insurance and flight cancellation insurance in advance of your trip. To learn about travel insurance, click here for a quick lesson!

What if the trip doesn't fill up or is cancelled?

The trip requires a minimum number of participants in order to take place at the stated price, since it takes into account group discounts, shared accommodations and other factors that create cost efficiencies. Once an adequate number of participants sign up for the trip, you will be notified. If a trip does not have enough participants, or if someone unexpectedly cancels, you will be refunded your deposit or you will be given the option to pay a trip supplement to continue the trip with fewer participants. Should additional participants sign-up after you have paid the trip supplement, this fee will be refunded. Your air travel itinerary is yours to decide, and we recommend you purchase flight cancellation insurance. Living Big is not responsible for additional expenses incurred by you in preparing for the trip including non-refundable air tickets, gear, medical equipment or travelers insurance.

What if I can't make payments according to the payment schedule?

If unusual circumstances arise and you can’t make payments on time please contact Living Big (click here) to discuss. Generally speaking, failure to make payments according to the schedule may result in losing your spot on the trip.

Oh no! The trip is sold out -- but I really want to go to Italy!

Because all Living Big adventure are kept to small groups, it’s highly likely that the trips will sell out. If we had our way everyone would be able to join (but we can’t grow that fast!)

It’s highly likely that there will be a second Living Big trip to Italy offered in 2018 — so be sure to get on the early notification list for that trip (click here!) Alternatively, you can work with Living Big to plan your own trip to Italy that mirrors the Living Big trip, or make any modifications you like! To learn more about custom trip planning, click here.

Trip Pricing + Payment Options

See below for key details and next steps to save your spot!

This trip is nearly all-inclusive of all meals, all hotels, ground transportation, and all activities outlined in the trip details tab (click here), all the planning and booking (so you don’t have to do ANY work but show up!) and advice on what to pack, tips on international travel and a go-to resource who is here to answer any questions you have leading up to the trip, and on the trip, to help ensure that you have an amazing experience!

If you’re interested in reserving a spot on this trip please make note of the following booking process and payment terms:

  • The first step is to request a spot, which you can do online (click here.) Once you request your spot, we’ll reach out to you to schedule a call to review the trip details, get to know you, give you a chance to ask questions about Living Big, etc. provided there are spots available on the trip.
  • If after this conversation you’re on board to join for the adventure, you’ll receive a link to the registration page where you can formally register, submit your first payment and sign the trip waiver.

There are two options for payment:

  1. Pay the full amount by credit card or by check.
  2. Break your payments into equal monthly installments. Make a deposit of $500 to formally register for your spot, and then on the first of each month (following the month you made your deposit payment) your credit card will be automatically charged a set amount, so that the final payment is applied on June 1, 2017. If you decide to make monthly installment payments, you will receive a payment schedule based on when you register.

Ready to join Living Big in Italy?

If you’d like to request a spot on this trip, or if you just want to learn more, fill out the form below and we'll be in touch very soon!
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