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Il Gusto del Paese Newsletter

December 2015

Walking Tours in Italy

Although most guided tours involve some measure of forward motion on the souls of the feet, not just any tour can be called 'walking'.  What makes this form of sightseeing so unique is its hands-on approach to visiting a place – offering the ability to feel a part of your immediate surroundings. You get to touch, smell, taste, hear and see the sights you’re visiting, but in a more down-to-earth, organic way. A walking tour provides something you can’t get from inside a bus or minivan...It’s slow travel at its best.

My friend, Alessandro Gullo and I have known each other for 10 years. He has helped me plan and guide many a fabulous trips over the years. Because Alessandro’s walking tours are customized to your particular group, they’re not ‘one-size-fits-all’ enterprises. Rather, he takes into consideration the needs and interests of the folks who are actually traveling. By personalizing the experience, you get to see what you want, when you want and with whom you want. Over the years our group has grown from 5 people to 15 (ranging in ages from 34 to 72).  No matter the size of our group, and whether they were family or friends, all of our trips went beyond our expectations.

In the last few years, I’ve helped organize (and also participated) in several walking tours around Italy. The first 2 took place in Sicily, while last summer we set out for the Dolomites, a mountain range in Northern Italy, below the border with Austria. It was a wonderful holiday, full of exercise, majestic scenery, great friends and superb food and wine.






In 2013, Alessandro and Orietta took our group to the ancient island of Sicily.  


Our itinerary included UNESCO World Heritage sites, tuna fish factories, a coastal bird nature reserve and a hike up to Mount Etna (an active volcano), which we combined with a porcini mushroom hunt, ending with a trek along the sea at Mount Cofano. Amazing!

Our meals were enjoyed at different locations and settings, however sometimes we decide to stay in one place for 2 or 3 nights. The beauty of a walking tour is that it’s entirely up to you. Are you the type who doesn’t let the grass to grow beneath your feet? If so, you may want to pack-in multiple sites in a day, getting the most out of your time away. But maybe you’re the “kick-back and drink wine and soak in the local color” kind of traveler? No problem. When booking a walking tour with Alessandro, the sky’s the limit. You decide on the pace that suits you.


Greek Temple in Sicily


Lunch between walks


The Climb to Mount Etna



Although our trip to the Dolomites was more physically challenging than the Sicily one, it was completely worth it!


Alessandro and Claudia lead the charge with this year’s group of 15. We were assigned 2 guides that led the way, kept us hydrated, plus energized and entertained us. Looking at the possibility for a repeat next year, it will keep me motivated to hike and get to the gym.


Majestic Dolomites

The view from up above.

Our illustrious guide, Alessandro



Alessandro leads tours all over Italy, not only the Dolomites and Sicily. Tuscany, Umbria and Le Cinque Terre are also regular destinations. All of his guides are extremely knowledgeable about the culture, cuisine and wine. Furthermore, I especially love travelling with Alessandro because after you’ve decided where and when you want to go, you just send him a check, organize your arrival and departure, and everything in between is taken care of. It really is worry-free travel.

If you’re planning an upcoming family or group holiday, I highly recommend Umbria Tours and would be happy to assist you with the planning.  In fact, I’m thinking of repeating our trip to the Dolomites this year, so if you’re interested in joining us, please drop me a line. We’d love to have you along for the fun.