“Happiness is only real when shared” – a quote in the epic book/film Into the Wild that was based on the true story of Christopher McCandless and his escapades in the Alaskan wilderness. The same could easily be said of Italy. Happiness here is sharing a bowl of delicious pasta with your romantic partner in Tuscany, swimming at the beaches of Puglia with your family, or exploring the historic sites of Sicily with new friends. That is why we recommend small group tours in Italy with Vita Italian Tours.
With a maximum size of 14 guests, this 5-star rated tour operator can show you the real Italia in the company of wonderful local guides and like-minded fellow travelers. This intimate group setting allows you to create lifelong friendships as everyone experiences a new country together, and you don’t feel like just another number which often happens on larger tours. Many of the destinations that Vita Italian Tours selects are off the beaten track, away from tourist traps and into the soul of this ancient land.
“Good food, good wine and good friends” – that is the motto of Vita Italian Tours, run by the Vitellone family in Australia. Mario and Viny, along with their son Gianni, are the founders and tour leaders who have a long and strong connection to Italy. Having spent ample time in the country through living, studying and visiting there – the Vitellone’s are passionate about all things Italian. They have formed some fantastic relationships with the Italian people and local businesses over the years.
Going on small group tours in Italy with a family-run business like this means you will be part of their wider family on your trip and never made to feel like a typical tourist. It’s the ultimate journey for a first-timer or for frequent visitors who would like to see a new region of Italy in a unique way. Mario, Viny and Gianni will introduce you to the locals who radiate a sense of warmth and hospitality. Exploring hidden gems in the countryside, dining at local trattorias and taking cultural classes is just the beginning.
Best Small Group Tours of Italy
The three small group tours of Italy that we would like to showcase below all offer something different but they have similar qualities. Namely: you will be personally guided by Mario, Viny and Gianni and their team of local experts, the itinerary will include a mixture of Italy’s top sights plus a variety of secret treasures that not many travelers know about, the food and wine will be authentic, no more than 14 people will be in the group, and the logistics like hotels and transfers will run smoothly.
Whether you are a solo, couple, friends or family one of these tours will be perfect. Wine lovers might be interested in the Tuscany option, others who have already visited Italy and skipped Puglia may be intrigued by the prospect of touring through the “heel” of Italy’s “boot”, and history buffs could enjoy discovering the UNESCO sites of Sicily with a few companions. Whatever your preferences, Vita Italian Tours (vita meaning “life”) can deliver a once in a lifetime adventure that you will never forget.
This phenomenal small group food and wine tour departs on the 5th of June, 2023 – so there is still plenty of time to consider booking it. For 10 days and nine nights, be escorted around the remarkable regions of Emilia Romagna and Tuscany with Mario, Viny and Gianni as your guides. Food and wine will feature prominently on this experience since the culinary heritage of Central Italy is just too good to miss out on. Expect many specialty lunches and dinners, as well as some superb winery tours.
It starts in Bologna and finishes in Florence, checking out some marvellous places along the way. Bologna’s architecture is only surpassed by its cuisine and you will have the opportunity to dine at traditional Bolognese trattorias, shop for produce, try local delicacies and see how tortellini is made in a pasta lab. After two nights in Bologna, the next stop is Reggio Emilia. En route, two guided tours will take place at a dairy and acetaia – allowing you to sample parmesan cheese and balsamic vinegar.
From Reggio Emilia, you get to visit Parma and its surrounding countryside which is undoubtedly Prosciutto territory. Touring a local Prosciutto producer is the highlight here. On the fifth day you say “arrivederci” to Emilia Romagna and head to Panzano – a hilltop town in Tuscany situated in the Chianti Classico wine zone. For four nights, guests stay in a stunning villa/self-contained apartment complete with a swimming pool and gardens. Once checked-in, a winery tour and private dinner is on the cards.
With Panzano as your base, there will be several day trips on offer in the following days. The first is to Florence to soak up its Renaissance flair, taste Florentine food, and explore the markets and boutiques. The next day the group travels to Pienza in Val d’Orcia to do a walking tour and winery visit. The final two destinations are Radda for a cooking demonstration and Castellina to get lost down cute alleyways, before the tour finishes on Day 10 in Florence. As you can see, this trip really is a foodie paradise.
With the September 17th (2023) tour date fully booked out, you need to be quick to secure your place on the last remaining September 3rd tour. For almost two weeks (13 days and 12 nights), travelers immerse themselves in the southern regions of Italy which will include Puglia, Abruzzo and Matera. The architecture, cuisine, culture and landscapes of these areas are nothing short of breathtaking – and collectively they make for an entirely different trip to the popular western and northern counterparts.
Of special note is the fact that the ancestors of the Vitellone family hail from this part of Italy and many of their relatives still live there today. For this reason, you can be assured that your trip to the “Spectacular South” will be a special one. After flying into Rome, you can meet your guides in the Eternal City and begin. The group then leaves Roma for Pescara in Abruzzo where you will spend three nights. Day 2 sees you travel to Gran Sasso with stops at Santo Stefano (Sessanio) and Calascio Castle.
On the third day, you get the chance to experience the hidden gem of Vasto – an ancient Roman town perched on the Adriatic. Enjoy an Abruzzese banquet in a surprise location overlooking the coastline and fishing villages. Day 4 transports you to the “Pearl of Puglia” called Trani which is your home for the next two nights. Vieste located in Gargano National Park will be visited during this trip, and photographers will have a field day capturing the charming white houses and narrow streets here.
Once in Puglia there are some extraordinary activities on offer such as visiting the UNESCO-listed Castel del Monte, three nights in the seductive Polignano a Mare, seeing the iconic “trulli” houses of Alberobello, marvelling at the Baroque buildings of Lecce and revelling in a walking tour of Otranto. All of this before the highlight of the tour: Matera. This former European Capital of Culture is known for its underground rock dwellings and stellar sunsets. You may never want to leave this romantic spot.
Limited availability on the Colors of Sicily tour commencing on the 27th of April, 2023 means travelers should get in touch with Vita Italian Tours as soon as possible to organize their booking. The largest Mediterranean island is a very popular place due to its rich heritage, awesome cuisine and beautiful beaches – and on this 11 day/10 night tour you can discover it all. Not many destinations around the world boast this many UNESCO sites – part of the reason why Sicily is such a cultural powerhouse.
But a great Sicily trip isn’t guaranteed if you don’t know how to experience the island properly. A classic example of this was the celebrity chef and travel documentarian Anthony Bourdain who notoriously struggled to capture the Sicilian essence on his trips there. However, with the help of Mario, Viny and Gianni you will have no issues living like a local and uncovering traditional lifestyles on the “toe” of Italy’s “boot”. The ancient port city Catania will be your first impression with Taormina being your last.
In between visiting these two cities are a range of exciting experiences on offer. On Day 2 guests get up close and personal with Mt. Etna – one of the world’s most active volcanoes – to admire the views and snap up plenty of amazing photos. The following day is all about the island of Ortigia where you will rest your head for two nights in the historic center of Syracuse. The fourth day includes trips to Noto (a UNESCO World Heritage Site) and Ragusa for a mouth-watering lunch in a local trattoria.
After settling into your hotel in Agrigento, the highlight of Day 6 is seeing the Valley of the Temples which showcases the influence that Greece had on the island. Then it’s time to visit the capital of Palermo with excursions to Monreale to check out the incredible cathedral, as well as to the fishing village of Cefalu which might be your favorite village in all of Italy. The tour is capped off in Taormina with a three night stay. There is simply no better way to experience Sicily than with Vita Italian Tours!