We’re off to France to study French with Josette’s pointers for finding the best language school possible, and to Italy with a group of students during the time of year when they’ll get the most from their experience!
by Josette Bonafino Continued from page 1
April 1, 2009
Dear Global Travel Guru,
I plan on organizing a trip to Italy in 2010 for my Italian class and want to know the best time to travel. What do you suggest?
Coral Gables, FL
Spring Break, the most popular time for school trips, generally affords student groups a less expensive and less crowded alternative to summer travel, but with one caveat - Easter. If your Spring Break occurs during the Easter holiday, you should expect large crowds in Rome. And like New York City on December 31, Rome will be packed with tourists, centrally-located hotels will be booked solid and airfares will spike on the week’s bookends. So be prepared.
Cultural Week or Settimana della Cultura, taking place in April this year, is also one of the busiest weeks in Italy. During this annual event, museums, ruins and other state institutions open their doors for free and keep them open longer. Though crowds tend to be larger at this time, the influx is mostly from Italians so you won’t feel like you’re being swallowed up by North Americans. And since the event takes place in the spring, airfare and hotel rates aren’t as sky-high as they are during the summer, making Cultural Week an ideal time to visit Italy if your school will allow the time off. (Note: As of this writing, the 2010 dates have not been published so check back with the Ministero per i Beni e le Attività Culturali at www.beniculturali.it.
Personally, my favorite time to visit Italy is late winter or early spring. Schools that have a break at this time should definitely take advantage of the year’s lowest airfares and hotel rates as well as the lull in tourists to Europe. The trick to visiting Italy in February or March is to fly into Rome and head south. While temperatures in the 50s and 60s aren’t exactly beach weather, they’re not frigid either, and the traditionally packed ruins of Campania and Sicily, including the biggie - Pompeii - are pleasantly light on tour traffic.
As interest in Italian culture and history increases, travelers to Italy must become more accustomed to the larger crowds and higher prices. Fortunately, there are still some months that see little tourist action, and hopefully they run concurrently with your school’s holiday.
The Global Travel Guru, courtesy of Josette Bonafino, also appears in Language Magazine.
Josette is the founder and Director of Culture Quest Tours, an educational tour company that specializes in custom-tailored travel programs. Since 1993, Culture Quest has worked with hundreds of American high school and college groups traveling to Europe, Latin American and beyond.
Josette is also the founder and Executive Director of MYX: Multicultural Youth eXchange, a nonprofit organization that works to increase tolerance among young people worldwide by using art-based projects to explore diverse cultures and social issues relevant to all youth.
A native Philadelphian and a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania, Josette is an avid traveler and frequently spends time in Iceland and Montserrat where she and her husband own homes.
The Global Travel Guru welcomes all travel questions at email@example.com