What areas do you go to in Italy?

Each of our tours has a different focus. We are currently featuring Puglia, Northern Italian lakes, Piedmont, Sardinia, Corsica, Sicily, Portugal, Corsica, Spain,Greece and Malta because we feel we are the experts being living in those destinations for a long time.

How long are the tours?

Most of our tours are for 12 days (11 nights) for the Sicily tour or 10 days (9 nights) for the South Italy, Portugal and Tuscany tours although we also feature 8 days tours in Sicily and Malta. Of course it is also possible to book 2 adjacent tours or more (a couple of days break between each one) if you wish to spend a longer time in Italy and Malta with us. And of course there is the option for 2 groups of friends each year to enjoy their own “custom-designed” Italian and Maltese tour, with duration of their choice – from one week to 2 weeks.

How small are the groups?

Very small.We have a maximum of 12/14 participants only on our tours

Do you have a minimum number for a tour, or cancel a tour if numbers are not reached?

Our minimum number for a group is 8 people, however we have never had to cancel a tour after a client has booked. On the very rare occasion when we had fewer than 8 people, we discussed and arranged an alternative option with our clients. However we reserve the right to cancel a tour and refund all fees paid if minimum numbers are not met, not less than 29 days prior to the scheduled start date.

Do you have a tour guide with the group all the time?

We have an escort/leader/guide with each tour at all times, staying at the same hotel or nearby with the group in most of the occasions. When we need a guide for particular cities, historic or art sites, we have several excellent registered guides to choose from, and our small group has sole access to that guide, which offers our clients the opportunity to interact, question, and actually hear the guide.

Could I speak to someone else who has been on one of your tours?

Certainly. Just contact us at Secret ItaliaTours and we will provide a few names and email addresses or phone numbers for you to make the contact.

Do you have free days?

Our tours are designed to be stress-free for our clients, and deliberately include relaxation time. There is something exciting or interesting organized to do each day: nonetheless if a client would like to remain at the hotel one day when the group goes exploring, that’s also of course an option. There is absolutely no pressure to do more than you want to do each day!

What type of hotels do you use?

We choose hotels not only on their star rating, but also on location, service and comfort- and of course our experiences. Having said that, our hotels are usually 4stars, unless we decide to use a 3star or b&b de charme for a particular reason (either no appropriate 4star hotels available in the area, or we have found a particular 3star hotel to be more suitable for our requirements). We have also found that some 3stars or b&bs are better than a 4star hotel. The star rating in Italy is based on a variety of things: we do not always need a restaurant (mostly one of the requirements for a 4star rating) at our hotel, for example. However, our company philosophy is based on sourcing small, intimate hotels with character located in the centre of the town ( with the only exception of Agrigento where we spend 1 night only) giving you the flexibility to experience the real life and customs of the country you are visiting. We do not work with large hotels located miles away from the city center, maybe having the only advantage of a swimming pool. Travelling with a Secret Tour means travelling off the beaten path and this is the kind of experience we are happy to share with you all.We occasionally use B&B de Charme ( Boutique family run B&Bs) because we feel in areas such as Siracusa or Taormina in Sicily , those kind of accommodations represent the quintessence of the country and are centrally located. In some occasions and due to the popularity of our tours and small hotels used, we might allocate the group in two different hotels near to each other.

Will I have my own bathroom?

Yes, You always have your own private in-room bath.

Can you provide more detailed information about the tours?

Yes, certainly. Please make contact with us by email or by telephone. If you are ringing long distance, you may like to leave us your name and telephone number and we will return your call at a time to suit. We find a telephone conversation to be a much better way of explaining our tours, and are pleased to make contact with you to discuss them wherever you may be calling from – completely obligation free of course.

Are your tours a lot more expensive than package tours with the big operators?

Generally are tours are priced higher than package tours such as Contiki, Busabout, and other operators with large numbers in their groups – but the two types of tour are chalk and cheese, and can’t really be compared.
Our holiday-tours have a minimum of 8 people in each group, with personalised attention to detail: they are designed to be relaxed, stress-free, warm, friendly and fun. Fantastic meals are included in the costing, and we get to dine in some excellent trattorie and enoteche where big groups are not welcomed or permitted. Moreover, clients get to choose from the restaurant’s menu, rather than eat a cheaper packaged choice chosen by someone else. Because our tours do not change accommodation frequently clients can remain at the hotel and go for a walk nearby if they need to give themselves a rest day at home: a bus won’t leave at 7am for the next town without them! In fact a bus will never leave at 7am! (Not even our usual 8 passenger Mercedes!) . There are private bathroom facilities for every bedroom, and people travelling alone on a single supplement do not have to share a bathroom. Most of our travel is done in a comfortable, air-conditioned Mercedes or small people-mover, with a professional driver. We do not walk through cities and towns following a “guide” holding an umbrella or frog on a stick and no-one has ever been lost. You’d choose Secret Italia Tours if you wanted to explore Italy and Malta with a small group, and have a relaxed, stress-free, well-arranged, all-inclusive convivial holiday, with lots of local content! We believe that keeping our groups small means a highly personalized experience: more personal attention, less waiting around.

Can you organize a holiday for us based on a particular Italian theme?

Certainly. We can suggest a theme or you may already have your own ideas. You may dream of having a family reunion holiday. Or an historical tour may focus on Michelangelo and the Medici family in Florence for example. Or a book club holiday, tracking the locations of or backgrounds for identifiable literary works. Or film locations. Or wine and olive oil tastings across two or three regions. Gourmet golfing tours. Outlet shopping tours. Regional cooking holidays. The possibilities are endless!

What can I do in case of emergencies in Italy?

Obviously there are degrees of emergency. If you need to contact your Embassy following a theft or severe accident we have after-hours telephone numbers as well as regular office hours numbers. Carabinieri (police) are also a telephone call away. Tour leaders have a mobile phone and access to a land line, and carry a list of emergency telephone numbers. In addition, we advise clients to always leave detailed information regarding their whereabouts in Italy with friends or family at home, and your country Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade suggest you register on their site prior your departure, in case of emergencies at home or whilst you are away. And, of course, ensure you have excellent travel insurance.

Do you do any language teaching / tapes etc before departure, so I can learn to ask for basic directions and so on?

We do no formal language teaching, but have tapes available for loan if clients want to become accustomed to the lovely Italian language before they leave for their tour. And we can recommend excellent language schools in your country if you do want to take formal lessons before you leave. However one of the advantages of being part of a Secret Italia Tours holiday is that you do not have to speak Italian, as groups are always accompanied by an English and Italian speaking escort. Informally however, our co-travellers usually pick up some words or phrases from our everyday encounters: “Buon Giorno!”, “Ciao!” , “Come sta?” are obvious ones!! However, as part of your holiday experiences we also organize an Italian lesson with words and without.

Do you have a newsletter?

Yes, we now produce a Newsletter every month. If you would like to register to receive our Newsletters by email, please contact us at aldovalerio@secretitaliatours.com stating “newsletter” in the heading or see the link “HERE

Do you do tours in other countries as well as Italy?

We can also tailor your tour experience in those countries.

Can you give us some suggestions on booking flights?

We strongly suggest that you arrive at destination a day or so early, thus avoiding flight delays and luggage complications. Upon request we can early book you into our first hotel for that night and add the room cost to your balance payment. You will be met at the airport and transferred to the hotel. We recommend that you book flights with connection times of not less than 90 minutes (2 hours is ideal). If you’d like travel planning let us know.

How much luggage shall we bring on tour?

Each tour participant is allowed one suitcase and one airline regulation carry-on type bag.We will be travelling in a 9 or 19 seat coach and the luggage compartment has limited capacity. We advise you to pack at least one change of clothes and other essential items in your carry-on bag.

What about clothing?

Bring a jacket in case of rain or cool evenings. Good walking shoes, sandals or tennis shoes are advised. Definitely no high-heels , they don’t work well on the cobblestone streets and paths. We recommend day packs for your cameras, guidebooks, jackets or wind-breakers. We don’t recommend handbags or purses. dress is casual.

Sicily tour: On day 10 our Mt Etna trip will take us up to an elevation of 6.300 feet. Jacket and sweater, warm socks and appropriate shoes are a must. Coats and hiking boots are available fore rent at the cableway station for a small local charge.

How difficult is the walking?

The important consideration is that everyone is able to keep up and not slow the group down.Feel free to contact us for more details regarding the activity level.

When do we receive the travel documentation?

You’ll receive a Pre-tour information at the time your reservation has been made with us. More information including the Passengers List and tour itinerary will be sent to you 4/5 weeks prior to tour start date.

Can you tell us a little bit more about Secret tours?

We are an Italian/Maltese-owned and fully licensed tour company (Malta Licence number: TRA/S/84) and we are based in Sicily and Malta. We are proudly member of ASTA  (American society of Travel agents). You are fully covered by tour operator’s liability insurance and regularly carry out risk assessment on the properties and services we use.