Tag Archives: andrea grisdale

coastal town Vieste Italy with text that says Italy's reopening what travelers can expect

Italy’s Reopening: What Travelers Can Expect


Everyone loves Italy, but what will it really be like now that it’s reopening to travelers? We gathered  Italy trip-planning specialists who live and work there for a live Q&A on May 12, 2021.  The event was part of our series of live travel talks. (You can watch previous talks here, and find out about upcoming talks by signing up here. For full details about Italy’s opening plans and “Covid-tested” quarantine-free flights, see “The Countries That Are Open to U.S. Travelers and What You’ll Find There“).

The big takeaways: Travelers can still do the things they love, they can cook outdoors, they can visit wineries and olive groves, they can go to Capri and the islands, they can rent a villa, they can explore the historical sights and museums, they will likely even be able to see the opera. But all five of our guests emphasized that the minute U.S. travelers are allowed in, the most charming hotels and in-demand experiences for summer will fill up fast, given the capacity restrictions in place for safety. So if you’re thinking of going, stop thinking and start planning.

You can reach out to any of the travel specialists featured in our talk by using Wendy’s WOW List of road-tested trip planners around the world. If you contact them this way, they’ll know you’re a VIP sent by Wendy, you’ll get all the benefits that come with that, and you can start your way to earning a WOW Moment from Wendy (a complimentary, exclusive, insider travel experience).

Here’s how you can reach them. If you’re not sure who will be the right planner for your trip, write to us at Ask Wendy. As journalists, it’s our job to review and road-test trip designers—that’s how we curate The WOW List, and it’s how we make recommendations to you.

WOW List–recommended Italy specialists

Andrea Grisdale  — Italy
Read reviews of Andrea, and contact her through The WOW List

Jennifer Virgilio – Italy and France
Read reviews of Jennifer, and contact her through The WOW List

Maria Landers + Brian Dore – Italy and Switzerland
Read reviews of Maria and Brian, and contact them through The WOW List

Marcello Baglioni  – Sicily
Read reviews of Marcello, and contact him through The WOW List

Your Italy questions, answered

  • Will tourist sites require a vaccine? 4:54
  • How do travelers get the required covid test before they come back to the US? 5:57
  • Are the country’s trains running normally? 6:45 (also 55:25)
  • Andrea’s summer pick 8:32
  • How is the situation on Capri? 8:48
  • What is it like in Rome? Are sights, restaurants, and museums open? 9:47
  • Jennifer’s summer pick 15:53
  • How have Umbria and Tuscany been affected? 17:54
  • What is the outlook for cultural events, such as festivals and concerts? 21:29
  • Are culinary experiences and cooking trips still possible? 23:42
  • Villa vacation rentals: where do you recommend, is everything already booked? 27:07
  • What are the pros and cons of renting a villa in Tuscany at this moment? 28:45
  • Is it possible to stay in a castle in Italy? 30:50
  • The benefits of renting a villa in the wintertime for the holidays 32:39
  • What it the best time this year to visit Sicily? 34:23
  • What would it be like to take a boat and visit the Aeolian Islands now? 37:55
  • Are the restrictions the same on Sicily as they are on the mainland? 54:28
  • The dates for Italy’s expected opening 40:15  (for the latest updates, check The Countries That Are Open to U.S. Travelers and What You’ll Find There)
  • What will be accepted as proof of vaccination? 41:49
  • What are the mask rules in Italy? 43:41
  • What do you know about traveling from other EU countries to Italy? 44:40
  • Can you explain the “Covid-free flight” to Italy? 46:10
  • How is the vaccination program going in Italy? 50:19
  • Would you recommend Puglia, Sicily, or the Lakes region as less crowded (but equally or more interesting in terms of food and culture) than Florence, Rome, or Naples? 51:10
  • Are the restrictions in Italy the same as they are on the mainland? 54:28
  • Is it realistic to expect the authentic Italian experience in 2021? 56:26
  • New hotels and renovations 1:02:01
  • What happens if someone gets sick on a trip, will tourists have difficulties receiving medical care if necessary? 1:05:57
  • Recommendations for Italian winter holiday trips 1:08:03


Learn about our upcoming live Q&A travel talks

We will be doing more travel talks on specific destinations as they open and other timely topics, and our newsletter is where you’ll hear about them, so be sure to sign up. We send it 1-2/week and it’s always personally written by Wendy, Brook, or Billie — no spam. You can find our already published Zoom recordings here.

Be a safer, smarter traveler: Sign up for Wendy’s weekly newsletter to stay in the know. And read real travelers’ reviews of Wendy’s WOW List and use it to plan your next trip.

Polignano a Mare, puglia, italy, seaside village

The Next Great Places: Where to Go Instead of the Usual Suspects

Travelers, you’ve had this dream: You’re looking at a map trying to decide where to go next, wondering how to choose from all the frontiers you’ve never seen, the cultures and cuisines you’ve yet to savor, the landscapes you have yet to explore. The key, of course, is to choose those locations that are still under-the-radar, not overrun by hordes of tourists. Iceland, as just one example of a hot spot, was blissfully empty a few years ago; now that everyone’s caught on, its Golden Circle is teeming with tour buses filled with Americans.

We have the same dream as you, but we also have a way to make it a reality. To help you choose the lesser-known gems, we turned to destination specialists who live and work in these countries and have first-hand insight into which places have reached that perfect moment when there’s just enough tourism infrastructure to offer the creature comforts you want, but not too much attention that the tourist masses have arrived. Sounds nice, right? In this video, Trusted Travel Experts from Wendy’s 2018 WOW List share the next great places. Where will you go?



Be a smarter traveler: Read real travelers’ reviews of Wendy’s WOW List and use it to plan your next trip. You can also follow her on Facebook, Twitter @wendyperrin, and Instagram @wendyperrin, and sign up for her weekly newsletter to stay in the know.

Cinque Terre, Italy

The Truth About Cinque Terre’s Supposed Tourist Limits

Lots of news outlets have been reporting that Italy will soon start limiting the number of people allowed to visit Cinque Terre this summer. The crowded seaside villages have become so clogged with tourists over the past few years that this announcement—of a plan to require tickets and cap visitors at 1.5 million—sounded realistic.

But as so often happens, the reports got most of it wrong (as they did with the scare that Venice was banning all wheeled luggage). You will not need tickets to visit the Cinque Terre this summer. We checked in with our Trusted Travel Experts for Italy to get the real details.

Turns out that the ticket idea broached by the president of Parco delle Cinque Terre was just that—an idea. As his staff clarified for Andrea Grisdale, it’s true that the national park is concerned about the high numbers of tourists to their UNESCO World Heritage Site—since 2011, the number of visitors has shot up from about 400,000 to about 2.5 million in 2015.

But officials are only brainstorming and researching options at this point—they are not limiting the number of visitors in 2016. One proposed idea is an online ticketing system called the Cinque Terre card (which would give visitors unlimited train access and admission to the park’s trails); another proposal could be a simple increase in prices. Beyond that, other ideas have been floating around—basing ticket availability on weather and trail conditions; an app that would show live information about traffic and tourist congestion in each village—but nothing is concrete.

At this stage, it’s too early to tell what will definitely happen. And you can be sure that we will keep you updated with the facts from our well-connected experts

As Brian Dore and Maria Gabriella Landers clarified, “There is nothing to this story other than it highlights something we’ve been saying to our clients for a long time: The Cinque Terre are overrun with tourists and may not be the authentic, fishing villages and peaceful hiking experience they have in mind.”

Of course, the Cinque Terre are not so popular by accident—they are beautiful, and remain on many people’s bucket lists despite the crowds. If these five towns along Italy’s Ligurian coast are on your travel list, here are some tips for making the most of your visit:

See the towns by boat.

“The five Terre towns are really tiny, so any land-based visit or hiking will be crowded, and the public ferries and local trains that go from town to town are also crowded,” notes Maria. “It is lovely to get out on the water to see the coast from that perspective—the view from the water is really what people see in dramatic photos of the area anyway.” Maria and Brian can set up a private boat excursion for you on a speedboat or sailboat; you can read more about it here.

Plan far ahead.

Andrea recommends you reserve accommodation as much in advance as possible, as the availability in the hotels is quickly booked up.

Visit during shoulder seasons.

“Consider the months of April and October ,as there are fewer tourists and a beautiful time of the year for weather and scenery,” says Andrea. “May, June, July August and September are always busy months for this area.”

Put in the leg work and you’ll be rewarded.

In a great blog post on the Cinque Terre, Maria and Brian point out that “Corniglia, the center village, is one of the least visited, as its clifftop position requires climbing 400 stairs, but because of this also has some of the most stunning views and hikes on the coast.”

Eat local

With all that walking, you’ll need sustenance. Don’t miss the local specialties: Liguria is the birthplace of pesto Genovese and is also known for focaccia bread, seafood, and Sciacchetrà, a wine produced in the hills of Cinque Terre.

Explore beyond Cinque Terre

Pro tip from Maria: Explore the area beyond the five towns. “I often suggest that visitors to the area stay in Santa Margherita Ligure or Portofino, which are also popular, but larger and a bit more expansive so you don’t feel the constant crush of your fellow travelers. The Cinque Terre is only a few minutes away, and you can visit the five towns in one day. You can also hike in the hills above Portofino. Other small coastal towns that are not strictly part of the 5 Terre but are nearby include Comogli, Moneglia and Porto Venere.”

Be a smarter traveler: Use Wendy’s WOW List to plan your next trip. You can also follow her on Facebook and Twitter @wendyperrin, and sign up for her weekly newsletter to stay in the know.