A Thanksgiving Tour Of Italy With Eight Family Members!

As some of you may know, one of Dan and my recent trips was a trip to Italy with 6 of our family members – my parents, Dan’s parents, and Dan’s siblings – for about 10 days. Yes, 8 people in Italy for 10 days. It was a wild ride and I’ll be writing more about specific bits of our trip later, but here is a summary for those interested in doing something similar!

DAYS 1 – 2: ALBA, ITALY

After an overnight flight from New York, we landed in Milan early in the morning. A van was waiting for us and drove us 2 hours to Alba in the Piedmont region.  We checked into our hotel and promptly hit the streets to explore Alba’s famous International White Truffle Festival. We spent two days in Alba, largely at the truffle festival. We also checked out some delicious Piedmontese restaurants!

Gorgeous white truffles.

A Nebbiolo tasting at the Truffle Festival.

Alba town, decked out for Christmas and the Truffle Festival.

Tips for large family trips to Alba:

  1. Alba is fairly small, so it’s a good town for the group to go about on their own. It would be hard to get lost here or into too much trouble. Lots of shops and cafes to visit.
  2. If you come during the truffle festival (early October – early December), make reservations at restaurants and truffle festival events (see my future post on that!). These do book up, especially during this very busy time.
  3. There really aren’t too many “sites” to see in Alba – just experiencing a small Italian town. This is a good place enter Italy and get used to Italian culture, the time change, and new and delicious foods!

DAY 3: WINE TOUR THROUGH BAROLO

On our third day in Italy, we took a guided tour through the Barolo wine region from Alba, visiting three local wine producers and eating lunch at a delicious local restaurant. The route was a bit crazy in terms of roads, but we drank some delicious wine. We ended the day back in Alba at a delicious dinner finished with Alba Amaro.

A beautiful wine tasting set up.

Betty befriending the resident wine pups.

Amaro di Langa.

DAYS 4 – 5: VENEZIA

Our fourth and fifth day, and actually sixth day too, were spent in Venice! We had gorgeous weather and spent our time doing all of the touristy things, including a Cicchetti food tour, St. Mark’s Square, Rialto, and gondola rides. It seemed like everyone loved Venice!

Some of the group en route to Rialto.

Piazza San Marco.

Gondola riding in Venice.

Tips for large family trips to Venice:

  1. Plan areas to visit as a group. For example, St. Mark’s, Rialto, etc. Once in the area, you can split up and meet up at a certain time. I suggest going to these areas as a group, as Venice is a large walking city and these areas are kind of far apart (in walking terms, particularly with families of various age groups and walking ability).
  2. Gondola rides can take up to 6 people per gondola. We split into 2 – 4 and 4. The two gondolas rode together so we could take pictures of each other.
  3. If you see something that you want to buy in Venice, buy it on the spot. Its difficult to re-trace your steps in Venice to find a specific shop, especially if you are in a large group.

DAY 6: WINE TOUR TO THE PROSECCO REGION

Our last day in Venice was largely spent on a wine tour in the Prosecco region, which was amazing and super fun. We tasted (and purchased) excellent Prosecco and learned a lot. I have a whole post on our day tour if you are looking to do something similar.  For Thanksgiving dinner, we trained back to Venice and dined in Venetian Ristorante All’Amarone in their private wine cellar. It was a lovely dinner in an amazing setting.

Whole gang at a Thanksgiving Prosecco tasting at Cul del Lupo winery.

Craigy and Betty up to no good in All’Amarone’s wine cellar.

DAYS 7 – 9: ROMA

Our last three days were spent in one of Dan and my absolute favorite cities, Roma! We took the fast Frecciarossa train from Venice, which was a little under 4 hours. Open a bottle of wine and no problem! While in Rome, we explored Trastevere on an evening food (highly recommended), toured the Vatican and the Colosseum in the same day, and spent our final day shopping and eating until we dropped. Of course, we had some excellent meals in Rome, including at Dal Enzo 29, Roma Sparita, Caramella, and Roscioli! And, I even met up with my Italian course friend Elayne in Piazza Navona! All in all, a great 3 days that went by too fast.

Betty & Tony at the Colosseum.

Finally meeting Elayne in person in Rome! After over a year of talking on Zoom twice a week!

Me, Betty, and Michelle Christmas shopping in Rome.

Tips for large family trips to Rome:

  1. Rome is really large with lots to do. Plan you time and transportation in advance.
  2. For large groups, restaurant reservations are highly recommended, especially while this pandemic is kicking around.
  3. Plan free time. There’s a lot to do and it seems like everyone had a little something they wanted to do individually, be it a nap, shopping, a Guinness (me!!), or an obscure tourist site.

DAY 10: FLYING HOME

While our flight back to the US was not until 1:15 PM, we spent most of the day at the airport, leaving our hotel at 9:00 AM to ensure we had time to get our Covid information checked, check Dan and my extra wine, buy some Sagrantino at the duty free, and hit the Prima Vista Lounge before boarding our flight. While a bit hectic (or honestly, CRAZY) with 8 people, we all made our flight and we managed to get everything done that we needed. I recommend getting to the airport extra early if you have a large group, especially during Covid.

Last drinks at the Prima Vista Lounge.

As mentioned, I’ll be writing more about our specific stops, as well as tips and tricks for these places and traveling with a large group of varying ages and interests. Stay tuned!

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