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What Makes GOLDEN WEEKS IN ITALY so different from other tour offerings?Excerpted from an Interview with Dream of Italy newsletter:

DOI: What inspired you to create Golden Weeks in Italy?

SVA: For decades, I’d had extraordinary times traveling in Italy with girlfriends. That’s when I realized how powerful traveling to Italy was for us females—how wonderful it is to be in a place where women have been adored since the earth was cooling, (from the Goddess Venus, to the Madonna, Mammas, etc), and add to that the many sensual pleasures that open our hearts—breathtaking landscapes, gorgeous shops, fantastic spas, delicious food and wine, flirtatious Italian men! It seems as though Italy was custom-made for women.

That realization led me to write 100 Places in Italy Every Woman Should Go and the idea for Golden Weeks came to me at book presentations, when women in the audience asked, “Can you take me with you?”. It was their idea, essentially! So I designed these Golden Weeks just like I was going with my girlfriends.

DOI: What makes Golden Weeks in Italy different from other group tours?

SVA: Primarily it’s the female focus. It’s so inspiring to have museum visits curated specifically for us to see women glorified by Italian artists, and to discover Italian women artists—such as in our exclusive Vasari Corridor tour when we discover Rosalba Correira’s self-portraits. This aspect is not only enjoyed by Golden Week travelers, but my superstar local female guides, who have many years of experience, love taking this entertaining angle, totally different from other tours they guide.

Also, most other group tours are jam-packed with sightseeing, hopping from hotel to hotel, and leave no time for La Dolce Vita, which to me is an essential element of Italian travel. Golden Weeks are all about enjoying Italy’s pleasures at a relaxed pace, stopping to sip the prosecco, and fully immersing ourselves in one location, so we get to truly feel it, get to know the locals, and see things many travelers skip over as they rush around.

Finally, I honor that we women have individual desires—so there is a balance of group activities with time for independent explorations, where women have choices: shopping, visiting a museum, taking a journal writing workshop, discovering a restaurant on their own—all with me on hand to offer guidance.

DOI: What do you enjoy most about leading Golden Weeks?

SVA: What thrills me is the deep bonding that happens—amidst travelers from all over the USA and Canada, who come with diverse life experiences—my last group ranged in age from 27 to 81. There is always a fascinating mix of solo travelers, girlfriends on getaways, and mother/daughter teams. With Italy as the beautiful backdrop, I’ve watched friendships blossom that grow far beyond our week together.

I always get teary-eyed at our Farewell Dinners, when we celebrate the wonders of the week and say arrivederci. I’m grateful many women have returned to Italy with me to experience Golden Weeks in other locations.

It all affirms the life-changing magic of Italian travel!

2. Why do Women Love Italy?
3.. How Do I Pack?
Read the excerpt from 100 Places in Italy Every Woman Should Go on Journeywoman.
4. Do you have Tips for Italian Travel?
5. I’m going to _____________…any advice?
You’ll find lots of travel advice on Susan Van Allen’s Golden Days in Italy Blog , where you’re guided to slow down and enjoy beautiful sights, tastes, and places to stay, with Susan’s recommendations and those of her trusty savvy traveler friends. Click on the Blog’s cloud for your destination….
For general info about places that are especially appealing to women, click on 10 Places in Italy Every Woman Should Go on ABC News AND here are excerpts from 100 Places in Italy Every Woman Should Go and other Susan Van Allen writings about Italian Travel that have been featured in Guest Blogs and publications:

ROME

Palazzo Barberini on Artist-at-Large
Cooking class on Context Travel
Roman Cuisine Tour on Town & Country Travel
The Roman Spring of Mrs. Stone (Re-imagined) on Dream of Italy
Christmas in Rome on NPR’s Savvy Traveler
Rome on a Budget on Divine Caroline

SIDE TRIP FROM ROME:

Park of the Monsters on Italy Travelista

FLORENCE

Costume Gallery of the Pitti Palace on Artist-at-Large
Casa Guidi (Elizabeth Barrett Browning’s Apartment) on The Gypsy’s Guide
Ferragamo Museum on Art Trav Blog
Florence On a Budget on Divine Caroline

TUSCANY

Gardens Outside Florence on Becoming Italian, Word by Word
Niki de Saint Phalle’s Tarot Garden on Mosaic Art Now
Museum of the Pregnant Mary in Monterchi on Dream of Italy

VENICE

Venetian Wine Bars on My Melange
Venice on a Budget on Divine Caroline

SIDE TRIP FROM VENICE

Verona on Argus Car Rental

NAPLES

Venus of the Beautiful Buttocks in the Museo Archeologico Nazionale on Escape Artists
Snapping Out Of It In Naples on NPR’s Savvy Traveler

SICILY

The Aeolian Islands on Divine Caroline

GENOA

Getting Lost in Genoa is How You Find It on Road and Travel Magazine

SIDE TRIP FROM GENOA

Parchi di Nervi from Italy Retreat for Women

AMALFI

Arienzo Beach in Positano on Bell’Avventura Blog
Positano on Go Nomad

TURIN

Palazzo Reale on Italian Reflections

PUGLIA

A Treasure in Puglia on Divine Caroline

LOMBARDY

Palazzo Ducale from Velvet Escapes

ABRUZZO

The Quiet Magic of Abruzzo on Divine Caroline

LE MARCHE

Opera Houses in Le Marche on Escape Artists

CALABRIA

Cooking class in Tropea on My Bella Vita

SARDINIA

Land of Rich Traditions and Natural Beauty on Creators Syndicate
Rene Biana, a jewel of a beach in Santa Maria Teresa Gallura on Dream of Italy

HIKING IN ITALY on Live Travel Mountains
ITALIAN LANGUAGE CLASSES on Women Travel The World Blog
ITALIAN WEDDINGS on Italofile