curated food tours & PRIVATE TRaVEL PLANNING FOR ITALY
Florence & Val D’Orcia,
DIVE INTO FARM-TO-TABLE FOOD & RENAISSANCE CULTURE
Salt & Wind Travel group trips started in Italy because we love the rich food and wine culture in this region. We’ll be expanding our trips to include a group trip to a spot that’s on the top of every Italian food and wine lover’s bucket list: Tuscany!
Join our group trip or have us create a custom Tuscany itinerary for you!
We could tell you it’s because of the Renaissance history, because of the delicious Fall food, or even the world-class red wine. But that’d only touch on the surface of why we L-O-V-E Central Italy.
Both the Tuscany trip hosts have a personal connection to Tuscany — Aida lived in Florence for a few years and it was on a road trip through this very region that Kristen first fell for Italy. True, Florence is a very-much visited corner of Italy, but our connections to local friends and businesses means we can help you dig deeper on Tuscany’s capital.
After a few days in Florence, we’ll head south to Val D’Orcia, the section of southern Tuscany that extends from Siena down to Montalcino. Known for its impeccable produce and world-class wines, this hilly countryside is an UNESCO Heritage site. While locals spend many a weekend away in this part of Tuscany, it is lesser-known by tourists. We’ll be spending time here and using it as a jumping off point to explore everything from northern Umbria to wine country and more.
Aida, a trained chef, author, Food Network personality, and food expert, and Kristen, a travel connoisseur and filmmaker, share a passion for all things creative. Fittingly, the friends met while traveling and spent that trip doing their favorite things: tasting the cuisine, trying local products, and endlessly exploring.
Our founder, Aida, lived in Florence for a few years and it was on a road trip through this very region that Kristen first fell for Italy. True, Florence is a very-much visited corner of Italy, but our connections to local friends and businesses mean we can help you dig deeper into Central Italy.
Boutique hotel accommodations with complimentary wifi in Florence
5-star hotel accommodations with complimentary wifi in Val D’Orcia
A meal at a Michelin-starred restaurant
All meals listed in the itinerary (plus 1 alcoholic drink at each lunch and dinner)
Hands-on cooking class with host and chef, Aida Mollenkamp
Street food tour conducted by the regional food experts
Market tours and indie boutique visits with local creatives
A group concierge to help with any extra events you may want to plan
A group photographer so you can enjoy the moment
Group transportation from the Val D’Orcia to Florence airport and to/from all events listed
Professionally shot 10 edited group photos daily
Gratuities for all meals, hotels, and drivers
A few gifts from some of our favorite food & travel brands
A couple surprises! (You didn’t think we’d tell you every last detail, did you?)
Any incidental expenses in Italy not listed above
Gratuities for photographer, concierge, and trip host
Required travel insurance
Any extra excursions or events you plan with our concierge
Transportation from your home to/from Florence, Italy
Ground transportation from Florence area airport to Florence hotel
Alcohol beyond the 1 alcoholic drink included at both lunch and dinner
Boutique Hotel Florence
We’ll be staying in an historic boutique property in the historic city center of Florence. Located among great shopping, near museums, and the river, you’ll be in the mix of it all. The hotel has a chic design, great food, and impeccable service.
Boutique Borgo In Pienza
We’ll be staying at a quaint boutique property in a small hilltown in the south of Tuscany. During your free time, you’ll be able to wander and explore the town!
Why do you travel to Tuscany?
With its world-class museums, postcard-perfect hillsides, and legendary food and wine, Tuscany is the corner of Italy that needs no introduction. We’re heading there because our founder, Aida Mollenkamp, used to live there and we want to share the local-side of the region with you.
I've never heard of Val D’Orcia. What's that all about?
Val D’Orcia is the section of southern Tuscany that extends from Siena down to Montalcino. Known for its impeccable produce and world-class wines, this hilly countryside is an UNESCO Heritage site. While locals spend many a weekend away in this part of Tuscany, it is lesser-known by tourists. We’ll be spending time here and using it as a jumping off point to explore everything from northern Umbria to wine country and more.
What sort of traveler would enjoy the Italy group trip?
Our Tuscany group trip is curated for the easy going food lover who enjoys the cross-section of high and low tourism. We’ll be mixing the two often to create an authentically Italian experience for our travelers, meaning one day will be lunching on a pizza in the streets of Florence and the next will be doing dinner at a Michelin-starred restaurant. The days are packed with oodles of activities, and some surprises are in store, so high energy, get-up-and-go attitudes are encouraged. An open-minded traveler who is sympathetic to the changing environment of a foreign country will have the best time.
How many guests are there total? Who else is going on this trip?
We cap our group travel experiences at 12 guests and then there are 3 to 5 staff with us at any given time (that's counting the driver, the photographer, tour guides, and our two hosts, Kristen Kellogg and Aida Mollenkamp). This makes for a big enough group to keep it lively but small enough you don't feel like you're actually part of a group.
We encourage you to bring a friend, significant other, or family member, because we price our trips for double occupancy rooms and we think it's always more fun to have a roomie you know. That said we love adventures solo travelers and welcome them with open arms!
How much driving is involved?
We’re exploring two completely different sides of Italy on our group trip, getting an inside look at one of its most treasured cities, and uncovering the local’s best-kept-secret that is the Val D’Orcia region.
The entire itinerary takes place within the region of Tuscany (about 150 mile radius) so there’s never too much car time. And, we do our best to break it up so you never have to be in the car for more than 2 hours at one time. Of course, unforeseen circumstances or traffic could cause delays but we’ll do our best to keep it under control.
How much walking is involved?
To us, the best way to get to know a city is by walking it. That said, while we're in Florence, we'll plan on walking anywhere from 1 to 3 miles daily, weather permitting. We go at a leisurely pace and it's all flat so it's never too overwhelming; however, we can always call a cab or Uber if you're tired! When we're in the countryside, the best way to get around is by car so you'll only be walking to get around wineries or around the town where we're staying.
Can I bring a friend or significant other with me?
Please do! Rooms for the Tuscany trip are priced for double occupancy to make it super simple. Just indicate when you book that you would like to room together so we can arrange it for you!
Are food and drinks covered?
For the most part, yes! All wine tastings and meals listed in the Italy itinerary are included (including 1 alcoholic drink at each lunch and dinner). Our seated meals will be served either family-style, as a fixed menu, or as tasting menus, which allows our restaurant partners to service our large group in a consistent manner.
Please inform us in advance of any food allergies or dietary restrictions.
What kind of food and drink will there be?
Regional Italian Food
When it comes to Italian food: there is no "one" Italian food but rather tens of regional styles that come together as the food we call "Italian." Over the course of our Italy trip you'll get to know the food from Lombardy as we visit markets, do street food tours, shop at gourmet stores, and dine at various Italian restaurants.
Florence is a town of classics from the museums to the architecture and, our favorite, food. When it comes to Florence food, there are so many delectable options. While there are so many amazing places you can go to find some of the best food in the city, some must eat dishes include bistecca Fiorentina, crostini al fegato, lampredotto, pappa al pomodoro, and torta della nonna.
Regardless of the season, our Tuscany itinerary has a mix of meals so that by the end of the week you’ll have a mix of classic and modern and richer and lighter meals. We do our best to balance it all so you never have one day where you’re too hungry or too full.
Will I need extra spending money? Should it be Euros?
If you would like to shop for yourself, there will be a few opportunities to do so. Anything you shop for is to be paid by you, separately. We will make various ATM stops so you can pull out some euros. Oh, and be sure to your bank know your leaving the country.
I don’t speak Italian, is this a problem?
Absolutely not! All of our partners speak Italian and our host, Aida, is a highly proficient at Italian.
There’s a lot here — how busy will I be?
We want you to really get to know the areas we’re traveling; however, we know that you’re on vacation and will want downtime. That said most days will have a few hours of activities, but, to keep it doable, we don’t usually start until around 10AM and we try to pepper in a fair amount of free time in the afternoon. All activities are optional though there are no refunds for activities you opt to not attend.
What is the weather like? What should I pack?
Tuscany’s weather is similar to the East Coast of the United States. We head there in the Spring and Fall when the temperatures ranges from the high 40s at night to the low 70s during the day and it does rain every so often. We recommend packing lots of layers, some rain gear, and a few scarves and hats.
We have partnered with hotels that meet the Salt & Wind standards of service.
Double occupancy pricing is the price for (1) person to stay in a shared (i.e. double) room. In other words, each person staying in that room will pay the posted double occupancy rate. If you're a couple or friends traveling together, please know that you'll each pay the double occupancy rate. Please indicate if you want two separate beds or one bed so we can plan accordingly.
Need some alone time? We hear you. That's why we offer single occupancy rooms. The single occupancy rate is what you will pay to have the room all to yourself.
If you do not have a travel partner, you can purchase single occupancy and have the room all to yourself. Please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org to discuss further.
What is the best airport to fly into?
The main airports that service Florence are Florence and Pisa though you could even fly into Rome or Bologna. Here's a little more info on each airport:
Do I have to get to and from the airport by myself?
Upon arrival in Italy, you are responsible to get FROM the airport to Florence; however, included in your trip fee is car service back to the airport or Florence on the last day. If you decide to extend your trip or fly out of another airport than Florence, that is not included in the trip price.
Contact us at email@example.com once you have your flights and we can help arrange car service on the front end of the trip if you so desire.
I don’t live close by. Can you book my flight?
The trip price does not cover airfare from your hometown to Florence, Italy, but we can help! Just ask and we'll connect you with our Salt & Wind travel agent who can assist you with flight and other travel details.
I need more time off! Can I add additional days on to the trip?
Great! We plan to add on day trips or trip extensions to the trips in the near future. For now, you can use our concierge (for an additional fee) to arrange additional tours, restaurants, or hotel nights. And, if you want to stay longer in Italy or Europe, we can help you get preferred rates with our hotel partners.
I gotta ask...is it safe?
Our team members have all spent an extensive amount of time traveling, drinking, eating, shopping and hanging out in all of the locations we will visit. We would not be running trips there if we didn’t think it was safe, but we urge you to check the U.S. State Department website to make your own determinations. You can also enroll in the STEP program for travel warnings and updates.
As with any unfamiliar location, we urge you to take precautions against pickpockets and to minimize traveling with unnecessary valuable goods, like high-end jewelry. All of the hotels we partner with have their own security and safes.
Not to be a downer but what happens in case of a medical emergency?
This area of Italy has a long history of U.S. tourists so the quality of care is excellent. You can also look into buying a MedeVac such as AirMed if you want to be taken somewhere else for medical care.
Do you recommend trip insurance?
Yes, we actually require travel insurance for each and every traveler. There are a variety of services for providing trip insurance and note that many credit cards (such as Chase Sapphire and American Express) include the service as part of a trip purchase. Please check with your credit card to confirm.
Does Global Entry help with expediting customs?
If you travel a lot, you'll want to look into the CBP Global Entry program, which allow you to have expedited customs experience. Global Entry is used anytime travelers return to the U.S. from an international trip and it help expedite customs and border patrol, so you'll be able to use it above and beyond the Salt & Wind trip too! Also, FYI, Global Entry enrollment includes TSA Pre Check so you'll get both when you apply.