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Are you ready to start planning your trip to Italy? Research has shown that planning trips for the future is a huge mood booster – so let’s start planning those trips and dreaming of Italy.
Itinerary planning is an art form in our opinion. So we asked our guest author and boutique tour leader Corinna Cooke, to share her recommendations and process for planning a trip to Italy that is full of the wonderful experiences and memories you are dreaming of.
From gathering inspiration, prioritizing your must-sees and dos, and getting into logistics, planning your Italy trip should be lots of fun. In this episode, we’ll take you through finding inspiration and ideas on where you might like to visit and tips for planning the logistics of your itinerary.
Corinna also shares that many of her favorite times in Italy have been when her plans didn’t work out and she ended up doing something else instead!
What you’ll learn in this episode
- It’s never too soon to start planning – even if it’s just reading books and watching movies or tv shows for inspiration
- It’s a great starting point to know what kind of traveler you are – what’s your travel style, your experience and what your stress thresholds is.
- The benefits of making a Plan B (and even Plan C)!!
- Whether you’re taking the train or driving, it’s good to be prepared and allow yourself plenty of time. Learn more about getting around in our |taly Train Travel Guide and Italy Driving Guide
- Instagram and blogs of both travelers and those living in a place can provide great inspiration, as well as Pinterest being a great resource
- Check opening times of museums, galleries and sites you want to visit, so you’re not dissapointed to turn up to find them close (learn from our mistakes!)
- About searching for Spolia in Rome – parts of buildings and other remains such as friezes and remains of columns from older buildings reused in new buildings.
- How Procida, an island which due to its brightly colored buildings, even out-does Burano!
- Pin locations on Google Maps so you can spot them easily as you move around
- instead of lot of short stays (we suggest a minimum of 3 nights per location), consider making a base in a city like Florence and do day trips from there
- You’ll never do it all but your list can never be too long!
Reading and movies
- Under the Tuscan Sun by Francis Mayes
- Pasquale’s Nose by Michael Rips
- Four Seasons in Rome by Anthony Doerr
- A Year In Provence by Peter Mayle
- Il Postino – filmed on the island of Procida
About our guest – Corinna Cooke
I grew up in New Zealand. A high school art history teacher with titian gold hair who wore gypsy skirts introduced me to Italian Renaissance art. She was so impassioned when she talked about Botticelli and Raphael that it made me fall in love with them too. It was the beginning of a lifelong love of art, not just the paintings and sculptures, but the stories of the works and the lives and loves of the artists themselves.
I moved to London to go to makeup school and for the next few years traveled all over Europe and actually visited every painting Mrs Anderson had taught me about. Never underestimate the impact you can have on another human’s life by directing their eye to seek something special in even just one piece of art!
While in London I discovered the impressionists and would read books about their lives then go walk the streets of Paris they lived their lives in. More recently an art historian named Andrew Graham Dixon turned my world upside down by speaking so passionately about Caravaggio. He got me so excited about the artist that I had to go find every painting in Rome and am now working through a list of every Caravaggio I can visit in the world.
I have been a makeup artist forever. I left Europe to move to Los Angeles for work then after many years ended up moving to Phoenix. My work takes me all over the country and all over the world.
I have always had wanderlust. My favorite journey is the one that takes me to the airport to set out on another adventure. Often we travel spending just a few days in any one place, with the thought that we will get an idea of where we want to come back to. At some point I decided I didn’t want to keep seeing new places, instead I wanted to spend as much time as humanly possible in the one place that spoke to me more clearly and more passionately than any other – Italy.
One day a lady reached out to me on Facebook and said she had always wanted to go to Italy but that her husband didn’t travel. She didn’t want to go on a big bus tour and she didn’t want to go on a cruise. She wanted to do a trip that looked like the photos I posted on social media. One where she could sit in beautiful piazzas with a glass of wine or a coffee, wander the streets where the tour buses didn’t go, interact with locals going about their lives. She said her husband had had a great idea – why not pay me to take her on a trip?
With that my little tour business was born. She blew up her social media with photos of her trip and before long women from all over were asking to come on Glam Italia Tours.
Over the next few years people were constantly telling me they would love to do a trip like I do but wouldn’t know where to start. They all had the same questions, concerns and pain points, and I knew the answers. So I wrote a book telling them how to do it: Glam Italia! How To Travel Italy, Secrets To Glamorous Travel (On A Not So Glamorous Budget). The book quickly became a best seller.
One of the greatest loves in my life is the city of Rome. Personally I think Rome is the greatest city on earth. Yet people kept telling me they didn’t care for it, it was too crowded, too dirty, too expensive. When I dug a little deeper I discovered they were only going to the main tourist sites, being stuck in huge crowds and eating at tourist restaurants.
So I wrote a book to tell the world about some of the other truly amazing things to see and do in Rome. I wanted everyone to see Rome away from the tour bus crowds and to fall in love with the city the way I have. Glam Italia! 101 Fabulous Things To Do In Rome came out in May 2019 and for the rest of the year stayed in the top 5 Rome travel guides on Amazon, and was frequently the top selling Rome travel guide.
Florence is another of my great loves. Over the last few years it has seemed as though each year there are even more tourists than the one before, all hanging out in the same handful of places, at times in overwhelming numbers. So I wrote my most recent book, Glam Italia! 101 Fabulous Things To Do In Florence, to show travelers some of the other amazing places to visit in the city, places that knock your socks off but that again the tour bus crowds don’t go to.
I plan to write a total of 11 books in the series. These books aren’t written from the point of view of a cultural expert – instead they are the stories and discoveries of a regular person who happens to travel a lot and loves to experience more than just the main tourist attractions.
You can find Corinna on these channels:
- CorinnaCooke.com – Corinna’s author website
- Corinnabsworld – Corinna’s blog
Places mentioned in the show
- Osteria All’antico Vinaio, Florence – cited by many as the best sandwich you’ll ever have
- Cortona, San Gimignano and Arezzo – among The Best Towns in Tuscany to Visit and Explore
- Lucca – a wonderful place to base yourself or visit for the day in Tuscany
- Matera – the cave city in the region of Basilicata (as discussed in podcast Episode #047: Basilicata – ancient southern region of tradition and history)
- Urbino – a walled city in the Marche region
- Orvieto – hilltop city with a gorgeous cathedral and fascinating past that is an easy stop on the train between Florence and Rome
- Sutri – a small, out of the way town, where the book Pasquale’s Nose is set
- Turin – a fabulous, often overlooked northern city
- Mazara del Vallo – a port town that can be found in Sicily’s North West
- Janiculum Hill in Travestere, Rome – where ‘Four Seasons in Rome’ author Antony Doerr lives. As mentioned in Episode #51: Christmas in Rome and Italy – a great spot to walk up to for fabulous views of the city
- Lake Varese – gorgeous lake in northern Italy with nearby Varese town known for its art-nouveau villas
- Lake Maggiore – the second largest lake in Italy, the lake and its shoreline are divided between the Italian regions of Piedmont and Lombardy and the Swiss canton of Ticino
- Praiano – a stunning small town on the Amalfi Coast
- Contiki tours global trips/tour company
- Motor lovers can go on factory tours of the great Italian car-makers Ferrari and Pagani.
Resources from Untold Italy
- Take part in our 5-day Italy Itinerary Challenge or check out our favorite itineraries for inspiration
- Listen: to our other episodes with Corinna – Episode #104 Experiences to include in your dream trip to Italy, Episode #081: Packing for Italy, Episode #49: Exploring Florence with Corinna Cooke, Episode #006: Florence highlights, and the podcast Lori Sorrentino’s appears in – Episode #034: Lifting the lid on Bologna’s food culture
- Savouring the authentic tastes of Venice with the must-try chicchetti – loosely translated as “small bites”
- If basing yourself in Florence, these are our favorite Day trips from Florence
- How to plan a trip to Italy – our article that takes you step by step through trip planning so you can avoid our mistakes
- Italy Travel Planning – our FREE online community where you can ask questions and get inspiration for planning your trip
- Travel shop where you’ll find items mentioned in the show
Prefer to read along as you listen? You can download a PDF version of the full transcript of this episode.