Magical Italy

Sept. 30 – Oct. 7, 2018  |  8 days / 7 nights |  $3,595

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“Over the years, I have spent months exploring this beautiful country with its warm and expressive culture, incredible food and wine, and its quaint towns. Italy is a place that inspires an endless feeling of delight for me – one which I want to revisit over and over again. I had the privilege of attending the Living Big trip to Italy in 2017 and loved every moment of laughing over wine, sitting in piazzas eating cones of gelato, and exploring all corners of Florence and the vicinity with a group of amazing women. I can’t wait to share my love of this country and culture in 2018 and live La Dolce Vita with you all!” —— Newsha, your Living Big trip host for this adventure. To learn more about Newsha, click here.

Trip Agenda

Day 1 – September 30
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 – October 1
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 one of our favorite panini stops overlooking the Arno River. 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 late afternoon for a hands-on cooking class complete with pasta from scratch, wine and more. All meals included.

Day 3 – October 2
Today you’ll have time to shop, explore and wander, and then join in a local artisans studio in the Oltrarno neighborhood to make a leather-bound notebook from scratch. In the evening we’ll visit a local market to sample many dishes from local restaurants and area farms. Breakfast and dinner included. 

Day 4 – October 3
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 – October 4
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 Terre (insert a collective ahhhhhh.) The views are enough to stop you in your tracks. But don’t stop too long, as there are many towns to explore! We’ll make our way through a few towns to shop, eat, walk, relax on the beach and take a dip in the sea 🙂 When our bellies are full and mind is full from the beautiful scenery we’ll make our way back to Florence. All meals included.

Day 6 – October 5
No trip to Florence is complete without a visit to see Michelangelo’s sculpture of the David, and paying a visit to the beautiful Cathedrale di Santa Maria del Fiore, and climbing up to Brunelleschi’s Cupola that sits on top of the cathedral. There are about 500 steps up to the top of the dome, but the view of the interior frescos and of Florence from the very top will take your breath away! We’ll take the afternoon to shop and relax on our own (or perhaps tour the Uffizi Gallery?) and meet up again in the evening to enjoy pizza and wine over sunset, followed by a classic Italian opera. And another gelato stop + stroll on our way back to the hotel, obvi. Breakfast and dinner included.

Day 7 – October 6
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 one of our favorite hill towns to experience the local art and culture, and enjoy a fantastic final meal together. All meals included.

Day 8 – October 7
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 women 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 Newsha. To learn more about Newsha, 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 a shared room.
  • Meals: see the daily itinerary for meals included each day. Dinners generally include a limited amount of hosted beer and wine
  • 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 local guides and partners.

The following are not included in the trip fee:

  • Round-trip airfare is not included, but gives you flexibility in using airline reward miles or extending your trip as you wish. Each guest is responsible for organizing their own airfare and transportation to the stated start and end cities.
  • 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: spa visits, private tours, cooking classes, etc.
  • Spending money, additional tips for your Trip Host 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:

  • Walking on uneven surfaces for up to 4-5 hours/8 miles in a day while keeping up with the groups pace
  • Walking up and down 500 steps at one time
  • Riding in trains and mini-vans for up to four hours at one time, and at times on windy roads
  • Carrying luggage in/out of vehicles, on uneven surfaces and up stairs.

The trip is physically strenuous and best enjoyed by anyone who is physically fit and enjoys very 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 online (click here.) Once you request a 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? What do I need to know before I book my flight?

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. The Living Big team is happy to help you review airport route or help; just ask!

Each guest is responsible for organizing their own airfare 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 in Florence on September 30 by 5PM and depart from Florence at anytime on October 7. The Florence airport code is FLR.

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

Yes, everyone will be sharing a room with one other person, but you will have your own bed. You can request a roommate preference, and share sleeping preferences, on forms that you’ll be asked to fill out 10-12 weeks before your adventure begins.

There is not an opportunity for women to pay a single supplement in order to secure a private room. Here’s why: single supplements, while convenient for some willing to pay the fee, often prevent many single women from traveling because the cost is just too high, so the decision was made early on to not go down that path as a means to encourage more women to travel. And we find that sharing a room with another woman, and having an opportunity to connect with other women and learn about their lives in this way, contributes to what makes these trips very special.

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 four-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. The train rides will be between 60-120 minutes each way, and we’ll be in the hired mini-vans for driving routes that are up to 2 hours each way (but we’ll stop along the way to stretch and use the restroom!)

What should I pack?

About 10-12 weeks before the trip you’ll receive a detailed 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.

What will the weather be like?

Weather in September and early October 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 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 10-12 weeks before we begin our adventure, you’ll receive a pre-trip packet of information. This includes forms, questionnaires and waivers that you’ll need to submit no later than 8 weeks before the trip begins. These forms 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 Pricing, Payment and Reservation tab for payment details.

What is Living Big's policy on non-discrimination and violence?

Please take a moment to review the Living Big policy towards anti-discrimination and violence. Click here to review.

If you’re on board with this philosophy, and can join us in creating a safe, comfortable and judgment-free zone, then we’d love to have you join for an adventure!

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 26, 2018:
    • 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 27, 2018:
    • 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 to discuss. Generally speaking, failure to make payments according to the schedule may result in losing your spot on the trip.

Trip Pricing

This trip is nearly all-inclusive of meals, all lodging, all ground transportation, and all activities outlined in the itinerary, 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! Trip Fee: $3,595.

Payment Options

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 August 1, 2018. If you decide to make monthly installment payments, you will receive a payment schedule based on when you register.

Requesting a Spot

If you’re interested in requesting 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. 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.

Ready to request a spot on this adventure? Click here to get started!

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