Readers Digest
Magazine subscription Podcast
HomeLifestyleTravelTravel Guides

Real Italy, real experiences

4 min read

Real Italy, real experiences
A guide on authentic Italian experiences you can encounter throughout Italy.
The old adage of  'When in Rome, do as the Romans do' perfectly conveys the promise to deliver you the Real Italy, and there’s no better way to do this than with hands-on activities that bring you closer to local people. Did you know that the famous 'When in Rome' proverb was attributed to the theologian and philosopher Saint Augustine, during a conversation between Saint Ambrose about how different Italian cities had fasting days? Immerse yourself in the local culture with a pick of Real Experiences.
Glassblowing on Murano Island
Take a private one-hour excursion to a boutique workshop on Murano Island and learn the traditional craft of glassblowing with a Murano maestro. Glassmaking has evolved over the centuries, yet Murano remains one of a few places in the world where the old-fashioned method reigns. The expert workmanship of basic tools and fire result in beautiful, unique vases, jewellery, and sculptures that hold the acclaimed Murano Glass trademark.
Glassblowing
Essence & Perfume Experience
Italian perfume has been renowned since the 14th century. Venice was the world hub of perfumery for several hundred years, which is why this city is the obvious location to learn the perfumery craft. At Palazzo Mocenigo, a former aristocratic residence turned museum, you’ll spend two hours being guided through the complex world of aroma and its history as you concoct your own personalised perfume to take home.
Essence and perfume
Palermo Street Food & Catacombs Tour
Venture through Palermo’s streets on this wonderful, guided walking tour. Wander through the city’s street markets and historic squares in a small group as your guide regales you with historic tales. You will be taken into establishments favoured by real Sicilians, including bakeries and old inns, and given the chance to sample classic Palermitan street food. Your final stop is at the renowned Capuchins’ catacombs.
Palermo street food catacombs
Sunset on Mount Etna
Experience a mesmerising sunset with an evening tour of Mount Etna, Europe’s highest active volcano. You and your fellow companions will be driven through lush landscapes that make way for lunar-like lava. As the terrain gets bumpy, switch to off-road vehicles. Your final leg is an exhilarating 30-minute trek with your expert alpine guide. With the volcanic heat underfoot, watch as the sky illuminates into a spellbinding palette of orange hues before it descends into darkness. After the drama, tuck into a typical Sicilian dinner with wine in an inviting mountain chalet.
sunset mt etna
Exclusive Night Tour of the Vatican Museums
Skip-the-lines and avoid the usual crowds of the Vatican Museums with an exclusive Friday evening visit. Your expert professional guide will shed light on the Gallery of Tapestries and The Geographical Maps, Raphael's Rooms, the Vatican Library, and Michelangelo’s epic Sistine Chapel. Once you’ve worked up an appetite, you can enjoy dinner at the Vatican City's restaurant, Le Carrozze.
night tour of vatican
Vespa & Chianti Tour
What better way to explore the Tuscany countryside than taking a ride on an iconic symbol of Italy, a Vespa scooter? In a small group, your guide will help you navigate the Chianti Hills, unearthing sleepy medieval villages along the way. This fun-filled full day experience includes a stop for a light Tuscan lunch and guided winery tour at a renowned local vineyard.
Vespa tour
Pizza & Gelato Making
Start your day in the heart of Florence with a three-hour hands-on cooking class. Your local chef will introduce you to the history of two Italian classics: pizza and gelato. Learn the all-important dough stretching technique, and pizza sauce secrets. For the gelato you’ll gain insights into sourcing the best raw ingredients and developing natural colours, as well as heating and freezing techniques. Afterwards, sit down with your small group and tuck into your final creations together.
pizza and gelato
Sunset in Siena & Chianti Dinner
Experience the beauty of Tuscany with an afternoon excursion to the medieval town of Siena. Before the sun sets, wander the narrow streets and marvel at the magnificent architecture, including the world-famous Piazza del Campo. You’ll then head to a typical wine estate in the heart of the Chianti region. Experience a romantic dinner under the stars in the midst of a long-established vineyard. Tuck into local produce, including salami, bruschetta, and other delicacies, while sipping on precious wines that have been personally selected by the winery owners.
Siena sunset
Cooking Class in Cisternino
Experience a hands-on authentic cooking class in one of Italy’s most beautiful villages. The traditional Ristorante Taverna della Torre opens its kitchen to you and other guests for a 45-minute lesson. You’ll have the chance to prepare two specialty pastas that are typical of Cisternino and the Itria Valley: orecchiette and taralli. Afterwards, tuck into a local lunch, which features local cheeses and specially selected Puglian wine.
cooking class
Bike Tour in the Itria Valley
Experience a half day bike tour through Itria Valley. An experienced team will help you select a suitable bike and then you’re off on this guided bike ride! This is a 24-mile round trip where you’ll be taken along small country roads dotted with rural houses and traditional trulli, and through various small towns and villages, including Locorotondo, Martina Franca, Cisternino.
bike tour
Olive Oil Factory & Tasting Visit
Head to Il Frantolio di D'Amico Pietro, an organic farm that has been producing fine Italian extra virgin olive oil since 1917. In the factory you’ll be let in on the generations-old family secrets: the different olive varieties and how they are hand-picked, and the choice of extraction processes. Finish your experience in the tasting room to sample this award-winning Apulian olive oil.
olive oil tour
Discover the real Italy with Citalia
There are so many different experiences to enjoy. Citalia are the UK’s leading Italy specialist with over 90 years' experience in tailoring holidays to Italy. Are you ready to try an authentic experience?
Visit citalia.com to discover the real Italy on your next adventure.
Keep up with the top stories from Reader's Digest by subscribing to our weekly newsletter

This post contains affiliate links, so we may earn a small commission when you make a purchase through links on our site at no additional cost to you. Read our disclaimer

Loading up next...
Stories by email|Subscription
Readers Digest

Launched in 1922, Reader's Digest has built 100 years of trust with a loyal audience and has become the largest circulating magazine in the world

Readers Digest
Reader’s Digest is a member of the Independent Press Standards Organisation (which regulates the UK’s magazine and newspaper industry). We abide by the Editors’ Code of Practice and are committed to upholding the highest standards of journalism. If you think that we have not met those standards, please contact 0203 289 0940. If we are unable to resolve your complaint, or if you would like more information about IPSO or the Editors’ Code, contact IPSO on 0300 123 2220 or visit ipso.co.uk