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Italy VIP with Italy Connoisseurs

aprile 7th, 2011

With luxury tour operator Italy Connoisseurs, just about anything seems possible.

As we wandered through PompeiI’s Terme Suburbane (Suburban Baths), our guide pointed out the evocative artwork on the walls, dating back some 2,000 years. The baths, located on the Porta Marina, are filled with gorgeous art and mosaics and give insight to ancient culture — but not just anyone can stroll right in to admire it.
Today, the Suburban Baths are largely off limits to the general visitor. In order to keep the deteriorationof its treasures to a minimum, only a few visitors a day are allowed inside.
Our VIP admission was organized by tour operator Italy Connoisseurs, which specializes in creating unique, high-end itineraries for individuals and small groups.

 

Italy Connoisseurs was created in 2009 by Fulvio Fares and Simone Paolo Moscone, veterans of the hospitality and tourism industries. Fulvio Fares has spent much of his 20 years as an independent travel consultant, organizing elite programs for traveling business professionals. Simone Moscone started his career as a concierge at The Savoy in London and, in 2007, Conde Nast Traveler named Moscone one of the top 10 concierges in the world.
Together, the two gentlemen have combined their passion for travel and their extensive networks throughout Italy with a strong commitment to customer service — there are very few travel requests that Italy Connoisseurs can’t accommodate.

 

My needs in Italy were simple. Visiting Pompeii’s Suburban Baths and not having to wait in line for tickets at the Vatican were as demanding as I got. These requests proved to be child’s play for the tour operator, whose services can include meeting a client at the airport before customs or organizing a private viewing of the Sistine Chapel.
But while the unique and exclusive is no problem (they have even organized a papal visit for one traveler), where Italy Connoisseurs truly excels is in determining a traveler’s interests and creating a one-of-a-kind program that matches his or her needs. Recently, for example, the tour operator flew a client to a working truffle farm where he was able to participate in the hunt for truffles, followed by a dinner made from the fruits of his labor.

 

The services that Italy Connoisseurs provides include standard points of interest and tours but always with a VIP bent. For instance, clients can shop for the perfect pair of Italian shoes but, with Italy Connoisseurs, they have experienced personal shoppers at their beck and call. The personal shoppers will escort them to boutiques carrying all the major designer labels and, more importantly, clients will visit some of the finest, relatively undiscovered tailors in the country. To that end, clients can have a suit handmade by the same people who dress the country’s top politicians and gentry.

And while much of Italy Connoisseurs’ business comes from direct referrals, it also conducts a lot of business with the retail travel agent.

We love to work with travel agents,” said Moscone. “Because we can really create a program that matches their clients’ needs, it is a perfect way for everyone to do business.

Because Italy Connoisseurs’ programs are highly customizable, it doesn’t pay through a standard GDS commission system; however, the tour operator works directly with travel agents to create an individual commission structure.

 

By Monica Poling

Ponza: a paradise island

aprile 7th, 2011


Ponza is a crescent-shaped, volcanic island, full of precipitous cliffs, rocky bays, caves, and ancient ruins.

Italy Connoisseurs can offer you a 40 minute trip there on a five-star private boat, so if you desire to escape from the fast-pace of Rome, you can be in paradise in an hour and a half. You land in the 18th-century port, where a sun-bathed crescent of picturesque houses overlooks the bustling bay, which is linked by steps and alleys to the cobblestoned main street. The first thing to strike you when you visit Ponza is the intensity of the colours: the pastel houses, the vivid blue sky, the sea which varies from a limpid green, to a transparent aquamarine, to a bottomless blue. Ponza has remained a little-known Italian secret as Anna Fendi, one of fashion’s superstars, who has been coming to the island for over 30 years, explains: “The people here don’t want outsiders unless they live the island life-style. They hate rich people with yachts. They don’t want to change for them. What they offer is enough. It’s the only place in the last thirty years that has stayed the same.” In fact, this understated haven is delightfully uncomplicated and has remained this way for centuries.

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The Gardens of Ninfa

aprile 4th, 2011

the gardens of ninfa

If you make the brief journey from chaotic Rome to Ninfa, you will be repaid with an exclusive tour of what the New York Times defined as “the most beautiful garden in the world”.

Ninfa had its heyday in the eleventh century, having become a prosperous, substantial town, but tragically in the fourteenth century the town was squabbled over, sacked, beset by malaria and eventually abandoned. Ninfa was left to slumber until the twentieth century when descendants transformed the town’s ruins into a botanical experiment by planting 3,000 species from all over the world. When you step into the Gardens of Ninfa, you enter a scene from The Lord of the Rings: you can imagine elves springing out from behind the trees, plants wind over ruined towers and walls, rejoicing in the lush damp conditions. The setting is exceptionally magical, with roses jostling for footholds in ruined archways, and the frescoed church wall still standing open to the elements. Though in ruins, Ninfa is a rare example of a complete medieval town.

Floating through the canals on a gondola

marzo 28th, 2011

If you want to romance your loved one, what better way than a gondola ride through the dreamy canals of Venice.

The gondola is the limousine of rowing boats and is perfectly adapted for the waters of “The Floating City”. For hundreds of years gondolas were the principal means of transportation and the most popular vessels within Venice, due to their manoeuvrability and speed. The gondolier stands facing the bow and rows with a forward stroke, followed by a compensating backward stroke. He is immaculately dressed in black pants, a striped shirt, and closed dark shoes. At the front of the boat stands the decorative fèrro (‘iron’) which acts as a counterweight for the gondolier near the stern.

Florence. Leather. Ferragamo

novembre 17th, 2010

Who knows whether Salvatore’s sisters, in the early 1900s, realised that they wore on their feet the creations of a man who would one day conquer Hollywood?

And the rest of the world.
Walking through the Florentine streets, which drip with Italian history, you may stumble across the heart of the Ferragamo empire. This style has influenced the whole world as the Ferragamo label is a byword for quality and elegance. The designs range from the strikingly bizarre objets d’art to the made-to-measure shoes, which reflect the historic tradition of Italian shoemakers.

Ferragamo, the King of shoes.