So, you have seen movies about Paris and have heard people talk about the “City of Lights” and you are now thinking about visiting this beautiful city. Rest assured that you are not alone in considering visiting this amazing and beautiful city and for good reason.
Paris is simply a beautiful place to Experience and words cannot do it justice. There are so many things to do, to see and to Experience that makes this place a perfect destination for just about anybody. Whether you are a fan of the opera or like to take in beautiful parks, Paris has something that will take your breath away and leave you wanting more.
Some must-see sights in Paris:
The Palais Garnier Opera House which is probably one of the world’s most famous opera houses was built from 1861-1865 and has 1,979 seats. Nicely situated in the 9th arrondissement of Paris, it is very easy to find. Historically, the Palais Garnier was known for being the home of the Paris opera, but since 1989 the primary use is for the ballet. The Palais Garnier also offers daily tours of the beautiful building and is highly recommended.
Notre-Dame de Paris, Meaning, “Our Lady of Paris” or just Notre Dame is an absolutely beautiful cathedral and is considered to be one of the finest examples of French Gothic architecture. The cathedral is located in the 4th arrondissement.
The Eiffel Tower is one of the most iconic sights in Paris. The tower was named after Gustave Eiffel, whose company designed and built the tower. The tower was built in 1887-1889 as the entrance to the 1889 World’s Fair.
The Louvre which is the world’s largest and the most visited art museum in the world is located in the 1st arrondissement. This museum is home to approximately 38,000 objects over an exhibit area of 782,910 square feet.
The list above only scratches the surface of what this beautiful city has to offer. We highly recommend getting off of the tourist track and exploring the local neighborhood cafés, bars, and restaurants. It is only when you go into the local neighborhoods and eat and drink where the locals live that you will truly Experience Paris. Join A Toast to Travel for our Paris and Champagne Experience and learn to Live Like a Local in Paris!
When we think of Thanksgiving or giving thanks, we think of family and friends gathering around the dinner table with drinks in hand to relax, enjoy each other’s company and feast! In America, it’s an important holiday largely centering on feasting, quality time and football! After all that food, what else can you do?
The tradition of Thanksgiving originated to celebrate the harvest of the year. Plymouth, Massachusetts is where the first American colony started and its people were known as the pilgrims. After the first harvest, the pilgrims celebrated in November with a meal shared with Native Americans. Thus, Thanksgiving was born.
There is no official Thanksgiving in Italy like that we know of in America. There are many other days of thanks for other reasons including patron saints. Generally, the typical Thanksgiving meal (turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, green bean casserole and plenty of pies) is not served in Italy. Some restaurants will accommodate a special menu for a private group–especially in a city like Rome or Florence where there are many different nationalities constantly traveling through.
What we’ve found very popular is a group of friends and family looking to enjoy Thanksgiving together while learning how to cook. A cooking experience all can enjoy over Thanksgiving is definitely very popular. A Toast to Travel’s Cooking Under the Tuscan Sun experience fits the bill perfectly. Each day, you will cook a meal from start to finish together while enjoying music, fun, and wine. You will learn from an authentic Italian chef all the secrets of the Italian cuisine and then sit down with your friends and family to enjoy the meal you’ve all just cooked together. It’s a very bonding experience and the unlimited wine doesn’t hurt either.
During the experience, you also have the opportunity to hunt truffles, explore Florence and Siena, tour and taste wine at a stunning winery in Chianti and enjoy relaxing yoga classes to burn off some of those calories. All the dishes we cook are very natural (as is commonly the case in Italy) so you can indulge a bit more without the guilt. We learn to make starters, fresh handmade pastas, pasta sauces, second courses, side dishes, and decadent desserts! All while staying in a cozy, sleepy villa in Tuscany.
If you are looking for a different experience in 2019 for Thanksgiving for your friends and family, please contact us soon so we can hold the week for you. Thanksgiving should be enjoyed to the fullest–filled with fun, authentic and life enhancing experiences. We have one for you to enjoy!
Live like a local in Tuscany so you can enjoy it to the fullest and get the most out of your experience with your hosts, Natalie and John, at A Toast to Travel!
When we were planning where to launch our new experience, we spent a lot of time thinking about what our guests asked for over the last few years and how we could do it differently than other touristy experiences.
Paris was an easy choice. It has to be one of the most beautiful cities in the world if not the most beautiful. I lived in Paris for many years and each day, walking past the Eiffel Tower on my way to class or back home, I thought how lucky am I to have this beautiful view in this beautiful place? Paris is not only the Eiffel Tower, though. There’s the magnificent Opera, the Arc de Triumph, Trocadero, the Pantheon, the Latin quarter, Notre Dame, Sacre Coeur, and Montmartre to name a few. The city is full of rich, historic sites and full of life!
Living like a local in Paris is a way of seeing the city differently. Of course, there are sites which have to be seen (and yes, there are tourists) but staying in the right arrondissement at a hotel that makes you feel at home, eating at the restaurants where the locals eat, eating authentic French food and drinking delicious French wine all add to living like a local.
One could write about Paris forever. We will endeavor to blog about Paris over the next few months so we can continue to share with you how the locals live so check our blog often for updates.
In addition to all there is to see and do in Paris, even outside of Paris there are important experiences to have. The Palace of Versailles is one of a kind from the magnificent Palace itself to the perfectly manicured gardens to the Trianon, each of these takes you back to a time of royalty and helps you imagine what it would have been like to live during those times. Marie Antoinette’s most famous line, “Let them eat cake!” may have cost her head but there was much more to the French Revolution. You get a feel for this while at the Palace—looking at the balcony from which she made the disastrous statement.
Reims, France, better known as Champagne, France is its own story. It’s a charming little town with a historic and not to be missed Cathedral. The Cathedral is in the town square and the Champagne houses are not far away! There are many to choose from including the famous ones, La Veuve Clicquot, and Taittinger to name a few. Visits to the caves with thousands and thousands of champagne bottles only add to the thirst and usually, there’s a delicious tasting after your visit.
Paris, the City of Lights, the Palace of Versailles and Reims are not to be missed. Live like a local in Paris with Champagne so you can enjoy it to the fullest and get the most out of your experience with your hosts, Natalie and John, at A Toast to Travel!
The holidays are an important part of the year in which Italians gather with family to exchange gifts and enjoy a nice meal. Our Christmas in Tuscany experienceincludes the mainstays of ourA Toast To Travel trips where travelers can see historical landmarks in Florence, Chianti, Pisa, Lucca, andSiena, taste exquisite wines and gourmet dinners, take tours of the art galleries and wineries across the region of Tuscany, as well as the once in a lifetime opportunity of joining in on traditional, Italian festivities!
The Christmas markets are a must-see for any traveler during this time of year with the powdered cobblestone streets, skies lit with cheerful lights, and brightly colored goodies every which way you turn. Browsing the Weihnachtsmarkt, which is German for Christmas market, and warming up with a cup of mulled wine is a tradition among the locals of Florence, and will surely create a memorable experience for traveling with family and friends.
We also offer the chance to travel through time while driving up through the snowy trees of the medieval towns of Chianti and to their own holiday markets. Pisa, the birthplace of Galileo, is also a sight to see with the leaning tower and other architectural landmarks like the Battistero and Piazza dei Miracoli, followed a trip to Lucca the famed walled cityto wander through their own gorgeous holiday markets. On the streets of the holiday markets, musicians play holiday tunes that are old and familiar, but also new and exciting!
The last few days of your holiday trip with family and friends include visiting Siena, a United Nations Educational, Cultural, and Scientific (UNESCO) World Heritage site, Midnight Mass with the locals at the Duomo, and spectacular multi-course dinners paired with Tuscan wine. In Siena, journey to the Middle Ages with the artistic masterpieces, medieval architecture, cuisine, and of course, the great city’s brightly lit holiday markets.
Our farewell dinner of Festa dei Sette Pesci, Feast of the Seven Fishes, will quite literally give you a taste of authentic Italian Christmas! This meal is commonly served on Christmas Eve in Italian families and features several types of seafood, a pasta dish, and dessert of season’s greetings. While the origin of the feast is unknown, it continues on with the spirit of bringing family and friends together to celebrate Christmas.
Being at the center of Florence makes the Duomo, or Cattedrale di Santa Maria del Fiore, a welcoming church to those who don’t identify as religious and allows all to view the gigantic, festive tree, a life-size nativity scene, and the experience of the art and culture along with the locals. Midnight Mass at the Duomo will allow you to get in touch with your spirituality while appreciating the grandiose high ceilings, mosaics, and paintings in peace with travelers and locals alike on La Vigilia di Natale, Italian for Christmas Eve.
With A Toast to Travel, having a warm and unforgettable holiday season is made simple by taking the stress away from the holidays and curating a trip that will be cherished by all.
Tired of the standard trip to the noisy, rude, and rowdy bar for a bachelorette party? Exhausted by the extensive planning required to find destinations that would be the greatest final fling with the girlfriends? It’s a given that there is pressure to search for restaurants to dine at, activities to take part in, and places to explore that in tow build upon the monumental pressure to impress your dearest bride-to-be. Many find a hosted, curated and vetted experience to be the perfect solution! With A Toast to Travel, all the details are taken care of for you and your private group.
After years of living in Italy like a local, we vetted and curated our Highlights of Florence and TuscanyExperience where for 7 days your party will explore Florence, Siena, Pisa, Lucca, and Chianti and dine on world-class cuisine and unlimited wine. The experience includes visiting top sights, the Uffizi Gallery, the Accademia (Michelangelo’s David), medieval towns, enjoying wine tastings in Chianti, an Italian cooking class, a pizza making class with a genuine pizzaiolo, and gourmet meals. Your party will be based in a beautiful, historic hotel in the heart of Florence and travel around Tuscany in a Mercedes vehicle, never a tour bus! We fully host your private group and are with you so you can live like a local.
According to a survey of approximately 1,000 women conducted by ShopStagAndHen.com, wine countries place third in the most popular destinations for a bachelorette party. We deliver the luxury of relaxation on what would otherwise require relentless research for an epic trip. At our core, our company is about providing incredible, authentic Italian experiences. Before the bride embarks upon the most important moment of her life, it is important for her to feel at ease and prepared for this next stage of her life. It is also important that those who support her feel comfortable while celebrating such a momentous time in the bride and groom’s life. The bridal party is the center of all planning and support for the bride and a short, yet luxurious time would leave all of you rejuvenated and ready to stand your best at the wedding and reception.
To provide an experience that the bride and bridesmaids will enjoy is an exhaustive undertaking. Going to a new country and traveling are frequently on the bucket list of most people, so helping your bride achieve some of her goals will feel satisfying to her and the rest of the bachelorette party. A Toast to Travelprovides an experience unlike any other. Forget the hours of research required to find beautiful locations, scheduling tours or classes for cooking and yoga, or stressful booking of hotels; A Toast to Travel will take care of that strenuous work for you so you can relax and enjoy time with those that are closest.
Florence is the city that is known for Michelangelo, the Medici’s and the famous Duomo, just to name a few. Most have heard of it and few would struggle to recognize its remarkable landmarks. Florence is the capital of Tuscany and the birthplace of the Renaissance. Its population is just under 400,000 and it’s full of culture and beauty, rendering it the embodiment of the Italian lifestyle.
There are many things to see and do in this beautiful and historic city. True to the Live Like a Local mission and vision of A Toast to Travel, there are noteworthy must-see sites in Florence on the other side of the Arno River known as Oltrano. “Oltrano” means beyond the Arno. Many travelers to Florence tend to stay in the historic area and do not venture across the bridges to this great area and because of this; they miss out on some truly great sights.
Below are just a few of the highlights of Oltrano –all well worth the time to explore in this lesser-known part of Florence:
Piazzale Michelangelo- This Piazzale boasts of probably the best views of Florence. It is a beautiful area to sit at a café and indulge in an aperitivo with some light snacks while you admire the beauty of Florence in the background with the Duomo and all her glory. It is a bit of a hike to get to this area if you are walking from the historic area of Florence, but it is well worth the effort. This is arguably one of the best views in the city.
The Palatine Gallery- Everyone has heard of the Uffizi and the Accademia, but there is another beautiful museum located inside the Pitti Palace just over the Ponte Vecchio. The Palatine Gallery is home to over 500 beautiful paintings, most from the Renaissance period. The Gallery itself looks more like a history lesson on the History Channel. Pitti Palace was also the residence of the famous Medici’s an Italian banking family and political dynasty.
Boboli Gardens– Encompassing 11 acres of greenery, the Boboli Gardens is one of the largest public parks in Florence. The garden is very easy to find as it is attached to the Palazzo Pitti. The Boboli Gardens include ancient Roman statues and even a beautiful grotto.
Santo Spirito- Although the formal name is Basilica of S. Maria del Santo Spirito, this church is often simply called Santo Spirito. A passerby may overlook this church and keep walking, but they would be missing out on a true work of art. Designed by Brunelleschi, it is definitely worth a look. The exterior was never completed, but venture inside and admire the Latin cross and its 40 side chapels. Also, be sure not to miss the beautiful frescoes in the transept.
These are just a few of the Oltrano highlights. Our recommendation is to travel with experts in the area. Traveling with experts who love what they do and know what it is like to Live Like a Local will provide you a local’s view into the true Italian culture and leave you with a truly memorable Experience.
Private, hosted group travel has its perks! What you should look for.
It’s a common dilemma; you have a group of friends, family or couples who want to travel together. Group travel may even be a group from your social club, your country club or a business organization where you work. It could also be a group of bachelorettes or a sorority. Everyone is excited and ready to sign up but there’s one problem. One person is in charge of organizing the entire experience, collecting payment and spending hours and hours researching a place that maybe she has never been. Ultimately, after hours and hours of research, the person can only hope she’s put together an authentic experiencefor the group and ends up so exhausted, she doesn’t even get to relax and enjoy the trip.
There’s no doubt that the benefits of group travelare clear. You have time to spend with those you love and may not be able to see very often. You can explore a new culture or a favorite city together. It’s a family reunion of sorts where everyone is sharing in the same experiences and creating lifelong memories. Sharing perspectives throughout the journey is one of group travel’s major benefits. When you have a variety of personalities and senses of humor contributing to the dinner conversation (or cooking class), it’s a lot more fun!
Experiencing other cultures and other people together is exciting. You bring those new experiences and perspectives back with you and you’ll be able to reminisce for years. Group travel doesn’t have to be so stressful and exhausting. You can hire boutique companies that offer fully hosted, vetted and curated experiences so everyone can enjoy their trip.
What should you look for when your group is ready to travel? Here are some tips you may want to consider:
First, if you don’t want one person to be saddled with being the group leader and missing out on the experience due to all the planning and executing, look for a company that hosts the entire experience. A hosted experience is different from an escorted experience. When you’re escorted, you only see your escort for the excursions you paid for—a few hours a day.
Second, you should make sure that the company you hire is expert in the area you are seeking to travel to. Guesswork or simple online reviews won’t do. It’s about living like a local so firsthand knowledge is critical. The experience should be curated, vetted and executed by those in the know.
Third, if you don’t want to travel like a tourist, avoid companies that utilize the services of large major tour buses. Nothing feels more like a tourist experience than boarding an enormous tour bus to visit a site. Choose small group methods of travel so you can live like a local.
Lastly, choose a company that will work with you to customize the experience for your private group. Flexibility is key. For example, if you want your morning off or a little more time to appreciate a site, you shouldn’t be forced to board the tour bus and miss out!
Keep in mind that group travel is a lot of fun. The factors to consider when hiring a company for your group trip should help you make an informed decision. Outsourcing the experience to experts who not only vet, curate and plan the entire experience but also fully host it will allow everyone in the group to relax and enjoy la dolce vita.
Please contact A Toast to Travel for any of your group travel needs and ideas. In the meantime, safe travels and live well!
When planning the perfect bachelorette party, consider a trip you’ll never forget. Italy is one of the best places for a Bachelorette party. It’s the perfect destination to let loose and enjoy the finer things in life, and when your closest friends accompany you, the experience is greatly enhanced. You want your send-off into your new life to match the excitement you feel, and a fun-filled week (with a private group, you pick the date!) of good food, good friends, and the novelty of exploring a lovely country is a fantastic way to do achieve that. Let A Toast to Travel show you why a trip to Tuscany is the perfect setting for an unforgettable bachelorette party!
Whether you’re a fan of food and wine, admiring art and architecture, shopping, or simply relaxing, a group trip through Tuscany has a little something for everyone. Stroll through the beautiful towns of Siena, Florence and Pisa, taking in the sights and experience the Italian lifestyle firsthand, then visit the famous walled city ofLucca and experience Renaissance-era history as it lives on in the modern age. Besides becoming familiar with the lovely towns of Tuscany, you may also sample the best of Tuscany’s varied and delicious cuisine and indulge in the best Tuscan wines. How about taking a tour of the legendaryUffizi Gallery, where some of the world’s finest works of Renaissance art are housed? You will live like a local, going on guided tours given by locals of these towns who know them inside and out, offering an intimate glimpse into the heart and soul of Italy that you won’t find anywhere else except withA Toast to Travel’s Highlights of Florence and Tuscany Experience.
For a more hands-on experience, perhaps you would enjoy Cooking Under the Tuscan Sun, where your group will become acquainted with the techniques, ingredients, and traditions that give Italian food its well-deserved reputation as some of the best in the world. As a result, you will gain a newfound appreciation and understanding of the importance of food within Italian culture, thus dramatically altering and improving your own approach to food. Wouldn’t it be amazing to see how truffles, some of the world’s most prized delicacies, are collected? How about learning how to make pasta by hand, as well as authentic pizza? Why not tour a winery in Chianti, where you’ll sample some of Tuscany’s most delicious wines right at the source? Well, your group could have the privilege of doing all this and more, resulting in a truly memorable, once-in-a-lifetime vacation bachelorette party that will be reminisced upon for years to come.
Above all else, Italy is a wonderful place to simply relax, reflect, and appreciate life. Don’t stress about planning an itinerary; with A Toast to Travel, that’s all taken care of. Don’t worry about feeding yourself and your group, either, or where you’ll stay. Leave that all toA Toast to Travel! You’re about to embark on one of the most rewarding journeys of your life, and an equally grand celebration, free of worries and stress, should be in order. Let the natural beauty and rich history of Italy complement the joy of your friendships and the exciting new journey you’re about to embark on with your dearest love. Life is short, so why not live it to the fullest?
Christmas is my absolute favorite holiday. And there is no better place to spend Christmas than in Florence, Italy. Christmas, as you might have guessed is one of most important holidays in Italy and you will definitely feel and see the importance when you are there. The cobbled streets are all decorated with beautiful lights and festive decorations. Warm wine is abundant and the holiday markets are in most of the major town squares. There are holiday specialty baked goods in all of the stores, restaurants and bakeries that will constantly tempt you. There are just too many things to list in a blog, but below are some of the must-see and do highlights.
The Duomo (Cattedrale di Santa Maria del Fiore): This cathedral is the hub of Florence. Located in the center of the city, you cannot miss this magnificent work of art. Even for those who are not religious, this is a must-see attraction. At Christmas time, there’s a life size nativity scene outside of the cathedral as well as a beautifully decorated Christmas tree. This is also the favorite place for Christmas and Christmas Eve mass. Christmas Eve mass starts at 11:00PM and seats are first come first serve.
Christmas markets: The biggest Christmas market in Florence is located at the Piazza Santa Croce. If you want to immerse yourself in holiday cheer there is no better way than to walk around this market. Grab a glass of warm mulled wine and explore the various stalls boasting beautifully decorated ornaments and other festive wares.
Concerts: There are always amazing concerts in Tuscany, but at Christmas time, they are especially amazing with all of the beautifully written Christmas music. You can find the upcoming events listed at the individual venues.
Food: The traditional Christmas Eve dinner is called the Feast of the seven fishes or Festa dei sette pesci. The origins of this feast are blurry and the number of courses is not set in stone—the main reason for the dinner is to bring together family and friends. The meal traditionally consists of 7 or so courses of seafood dishes and of course, there’s a pasta dish and a sweet ending. While in Tuscany, there are many restaurantsthat serve this traditional feast, and reservations are highly recommended.
Around Tuscany: There are many Christmas markets around Tuscany as well as other Christmas related activities, including the Santa Claus factory located inMontepulcianowhich is a real treat. Expect to be transported to a fairy tale time that is all about Christmas and Old St. Nick. The factory is not just for children, it’s a magical way to spend a day or evening for adults too.
ExperiencingChristmas in Tuscanyis a bucket-list Experience that you will never forget. Join A Toast to Travelthis holiday for a fully hosted, all-inclusive experience where you’ll live like a local! For more holiday cheer, you can also check out our Christmas blog from last year.
Consider a trip you’ll never forget. Italy is the perfect destination to let loose and enjoy the finer things in life, and when your closest friends accompany you, the experience is greatly enhanced. A fun-filled week of good food, good friends, and the novelty of exploring a lovely country is a fantastic way to do achieve total bliss. Let us at show you why a trip to Tuscany is the perfect setting for an unforgettable private group trip!
Whether you’re a fan of food and wine, admiring art and architecture, shopping, or simply relaxing, a small, private group trip through Tuscany has a little something for everyone. Stroll through the beautiful towns of Siena, Florence and Pisa, taking in the sights and experience the Italian lifestyle firsthand, then visit the famous walled city of Lucca and experience Renaissance-era history as it lives on in the modern age. Besides becoming familiar with the lovely towns of Tuscany, you may also sample the best of Tuscany’s varied and delicious cuisine and indulge in the best Tuscan wines. How about taking a tour of the legendary Uffizi Gallery, where some of the world’s finest works of Renaissance art are housed? You will live like a local, going on guided tours given by residents of these towns who know them inside and out, offering an intimate glimpse into the heart and soul of Italy that you won’t find anywhere else.
For a more hands-on experience, perhaps you would enjoy Cooking Under the Tuscan Sun where your group will become acquainted with the techniques, ingredients, and traditions that give Italian food its well-deserved reputation as some of the best in the world. As a result, you will gain a newfound appreciation and understanding of the importance of food within Italian culture, thus dramatically altering and improving your own approach to food. Wouldn’t it be amazing to see how truffles, some of the world’s most prized delicacies, are collected? How about learning how to make pasta by hand, as well as authentic pizza? Why not tour a winery in Chianti, where you’ll sample some of Tuscany’s most delicious wines right at the source? Well, your group could have the privilege of doing all this and more, resulting in a truly memorable, once-in-a-lifetime vacation that will be reminisced upon for years to come.
Above all else, Italy is a wonderful place to simply relax, reflect, and appreciate life. Don’t stress about planning an itinerary; with our Women’s Only Experiences, that’s all taken care of. Don’t worry about feeding yourself and your group, either, or where you’ll stay. Leave that all to A Toast to Travel! You’re about to embark on one of the most rewarding journeys of your life, and an equally grand celebration, free of worries and stress, should be in order. Let the natural beauty and rich history of Italy complement the joy of your friendships and the exciting new journey you’re about to embark on with your dearest love. Life is short, so why not live it to the fullest?
So if you have a group of 8 or more, whether it’s a special birthday, family reunion, retirement trip, alumni reunion, bachelor/bachelorette destination party, girls’ trip, romantic couples’ trip or a corporate/organizational business or charity outing, A Toast to Travel can host your private group and make it special and memorable. We will host you on your chosen date and help customize the experience for the needs of the group. One of our most popular experiences, Highlights of Florence and Tuscany Experience is sure to be a crowd pleaser! If you’re the one who has to do all the planning but would rather leave it to the experts while you enjoy, contact us so you can enjoy la Dolce Vita.