Posts Tagged ‘#wanderlust’


Thursday, May 9th, 2019

A man needing no introduction, 500 years after his death, Leonardo da Vinci, the Genius, is currently being honoured throughout Italy and the world. Celebrations will highlight this great Master; a painter, sculptor, scientist, engineer, mathematician, inventor, astronomer, architect, musician and writer. Known foremost as a painter, with famous works such as the Mona Lisa, Virgin of the Rocks, and, The Last Supper, there is much to celebrate.

Leonardo da Vinci

Official celebrations commenced on May 2, in Rome, at Palazzo Quirinale, the official residence of the President of the Italian Republic. Sergio Mattarella sounded the bell as a dedication to Leonardo da Vinci. This was the official opening to the Celebrating Leonardo event which will tour cities such as Florence, Milan, Paris, New York, Berlin, Madrid, to name a few.

Celebrations feature exciting aspects of Italian Excellence through Art, gourmet food, fashion, furnishing, design, science, technology and theatre.

In the Uffizi Gallery in Florence, an exciting exhibition of Leonardo’s annotations and drawings from 1504 to 1508 are on display. These works can be viewed interactively through a recently invented multimedia aid. This is befitting in honouring a true innovative Genius.

Leonardo da Vinci

At Palazzo Strozzi, an exhibition is showcasing masterpieces by Verrocchio, the Master of Leonardo, as well as other famous masters like Perugino, Ghirlandaio, and works by Leonardo, himself. Palazzo Vecchio will also display Leonardo’s Codex Atlanticus which he worked on whilst in Tuscany.

In Prato, outside of Florence, at the Textile Museum, a special exhibition, Leonardo da Vinci: Genius and Textiles is showing his research into drawings of the mechanization of materials such as silk, yarns and fibres.

In Vinci, the birthplace of Leonardo, his first works ever recorded (at the age of 21) are on show. These works are quite fragile, so only on display for a brief period. Exhibitions in Turin, Milan and Venice will also be held throughout the year.

Leonardo da Vinci exhibitions outside of Italy

In the UK, a showcase of Leonardo’s famous drawings “A life in Drawings” including his ‘Invisible Ink’ drawings and ‘Mirror Writing’ drawings will be a major highlight.

Queen Elizabeth II inherited more than five hundred drawings by Leonardo which were purchased by King Charles II. These drawings will be featured in exhibitions in various English Museums. In New York there will be displays of drawings and reproductions of Leonardo’s inventions as well as a Tapestry of the Mona Lisa, a 360 degree replica, the largest ever made.

In France, at Chateau de Clos-Luce, in Amboise where Leonardo died, a tapestry of The Last Supper will be displayed, on loan from the Vatican. Leonardo went to France at the age of 64 in 1516, at this stage he was crippled with pain in his hands and could no longer paint. He died on May 2, 1519 aged 67.

All these exhibitions celebrate Leonardo by showcasing the diversity of this Genius. Money will also be raised to go towards building a pavilion for visitors to walk through 500 years of Leonardo's dreams, a sort of guiding expo showcasing Leonardo's art and inventions.

leonardo da vinci

Vita Italian Tours visit a number of galleries and museums on our tours which showcase the works of Leonardo da Vinci as well as other famous Renaissance artists. Contact us today to join us on one of our tours.

Vita Italian Tours and Pronto Travel can also help you plan your visit to other parts of Europe or the world, and organise a visit to any of Leonardo's famous anniversary exhibitions.


Tuesday, April 16th, 2019

Matera, a small ancient city found in southern Italy, in the region of Basilicata, has been chosen as the Cultural Capital of Europe (2019). Believed to be the third-oldest inhabited settlement in the world, today, Matera is enchanting and well worthy of this title.

Rich in history dating as far back as 8,000 years when farmers, shepherds and their animals lived in caves called sassi, meaning stones in Italian. These famous stone caves are now where you will find restaurants, bars, hotels, and souvenir stores.

Image courtesy of Lonely Planet.

Matera’s highland plateaus are characterised by deep fault fissures, ravines, rocks and caves. The famous Sassi and the Park of the Rupestrian Churches of Matera were acknowledged by Unesco for their magnificent “Rupestrian” churches which feature ancient rock paintings dating back centuries.

Sassi and the Park of the Rupestrian Churches of Matera

In more modern times the people of Matera strive to improve their ancient city, making changes to embrace modern ideas. Their motto as the Cultural Capital of Europe is “Open Future”. An example of this is the new Open Design School established to promote new ideas. The school works towards creating new concepts such as luxury cave accommodation and restaurants to attract new visitors to the city.

So how is Matera celebrating the Cultural Capital of the World recognition?

Matera began its celebrations in January with traditional lighting ceremonies, followed by an grand parade of musicians from all around the world marching through the streets. Many exhibitions, festivals and parties will be held throughout the year to highlight the beauty of this ancient city.

To co-incide with this momentous event Vita Italian Tours will visit this breathtaking ancient city as part of its sold-out September tour, The Spectacular South - Puglia, Abruzzo & Matera. Travellers will have the opportunity to stay in a luxury Cave hotel in Matera and be able to marvel at the cave houses, churches with their ancient rock paintings, as well as many other beautiful attractions, both in the old and new part of town. Bookings are already being taken for the 2020 & 2021 departures.

Click here for the full tour details.


Sunday, April 7th, 2019
Massimo Bottura
Image courtesy of

Modena, in Italy’s north, is home to a little dining house called 'Osteria Francescana'. Placed in the top five restaurants in the world, under the world’s number 1 chef, Massimo Bottura (pictured above), this osteria has come first in 2016 and second in 2017, all the while earning its third Michelin Star. 2018 was another landmark year that saw Osteria Francescana awarded the best eatery on the planet.

Massimo Bottura, opened the restaurant ten years ago after returning to his birthplace. Modena, in Emilia Romagna, has long been renowned as a food Mecca of such in Italy producing the world’s finest balsamic vinegars, aged Prosciutto and Parmigiano Cheese, as well as specialty pasta dishes such as Tortellini in Brodo.


Image courtesy of Osteria Francescana

Exclusively, only a twelve table venue in the centre of Modena, Bottura incorporates modern techniques while staying true to Italian tradition, projecting creativity in his dishes.

In 2016, Massimo launched the first “refettorio” at the Rio Olympics. He turned surplus food into nourishing meals for Brazil’s hungry. He has since extended this reinvented soup kitchen, Food for Soul, on the road to London and Paris.

As one of the world’s most respected chefs, Bottura goes from one spectrum to the other by forming a close relationship with Maserti and the people at Gucci by recently opening an all-day restaurant in the Gucci Garden, at the fashion house’s museum in Florence.

About to hit Australian shores in August, Massimo Bottura will be live on stage showcasing his love for food and projecting his passion for creating more than just a dish. His visit is an event not to be missed if you are a lover of food.

Interested in a food & wine tour of Modena?

Vita Italian Tours share in the love for food by offering the ‘Culinary Delights of Bologna & Tuscany’. This small group tour showcases Italy’s rich cultural and culinary heritage visiting the central regions of Emilia Romagna and Tuscany. There is of course a special visit and lunch in Modena.

Unfortunately, a meal at the award-winning Osteria Francescana, is not apart of the tour but we indulge in fantastic local Italian food and regional wines at famous traditional trattorie. Find out more here

If an indipendent or self drive itinerary to Modena and the region of Emilia Romagna is more your style, contact us today for a quote. With over 15 years of expertise in travel to Italy our accredited travel agency Pronto Travel can create a travel package to suit your needs and budget.

Contact us today

Read Article ▶ Win 2 free flights to Italy!

Monday, January 7th, 2019

Pronto Travel & Vita Italian Tours are giving away two free economy airfares to Italy with Emirates Airlines!

To enter, simply book any travel services, domestic or international with our fully accredited Travel Agency, Pronto Travel within the Promotional Period 1 Jan to 31 Aug 2019.

Spend $1,500 or more to be in the running to win!

Flights to be redeemed for travel to Italy in 2020, terms & conditions apply. Please click the link below for full T&Cs.

Win 2 Economy Airfares to Italy - Full Terms & Conditions.

Contact us today +61 3 9080 3440 to book your next travel adventure and go into the draw to win.

Read Article ▶ 2019 Small Group Tours of Italy

Monday, September 17th, 2018

Vita Italian Tours 2019 Small Group Tour of Italy.

Come and share our love and passion for Italy on a small group tour in 2019. Exquisite local food & wine, unforgetable destinations and fantastic local people and their stories. Don't just visit the destinatons, come off the beaten track and experience the difference of a personally guided tour with Vita Italian Tours.

Vita Italian Tours - 2019 Early Bird Sale Social Tile

Take advantage of our early-bird sale and you can save up to $500.00 per couple on selected tours. Book directly with Vita Italian Tours before 30 November 2018. Don't miss out, only limited places remaining.

It is also a great time to secure early-bird airfares. Our fully accredited travel agency Pronto Travel can devise a comprehensive travel package including flights, transfers, accommodation, cruises, villa stays, day tours and food & wine experiences.


We look forward to exploring beautiful Italy with you in 2019.

Mario, Viny, Gianni & Nadia Vitellone

Vita Italian Tours/Pronto Travel




Read Article ▶ Lavazza Italian Film Festival 2018

Friday, August 31st, 2018

Vita Italian Tours is very proud to be a supporting partner of the 2018 Lavazza Italian Film Festival. Now in its 18th year the festival is the biggest public celebration of Italian cinema outside Italy.

To celebrate we will be giving away a series of complimentary double pass movie tickets in your capital city!

Simply book on any Small Group Tour or Private Itinerary with Vita Italian Tours for travel in 2019 and you will receive 2 Complimentary Tickets! Hurry we have only 5 Double passes to give away!

Viva il cinema!

Contact us for more details on 1300 842 444 at the cost of a local call anywhere in Australia.

For session times and movies playing at this years festival check out the link below;




Monday, May 21st, 2018

Top 5 Eating Spots In Rome - First time in Rome and not sure where to eat? Navigating the hundreds of eating spots and spruikers on the streets of Rome can be a daunting task, especially if you are sufferring from jetlag or are wiery after exploring the cobbletsone streets of the Eternal City. Author and Rome travel blogger Bronte Jackson has put together a nice introductory eating guide for travellers who are looking for a place to eat in and around Campo de Fiori and Trastevere in Rome's historical centre. Enjoy;


Although there are many great restaurants in the suburbs of Rome, these are not them. These top spots are all in the “centro historico”, the city centre of Rome.  Handy if you are visiting Rome as generally this is where you will be staying. My definition of a top Roman restaurant is one that:

  • Has been in operation for at least one hundred years
  • Is family run (usually by the second or third generation by now)
  • Specialises in traditional Roman cuisine (simple, fresh and offal based)
  • Has a menu that depends on what is available at the market that day
  • Does not depend on decor as a selling point.  (Not for me the modern, sleek, sharply fitted out interiors with modern twists or re-inventions on traditional dishes.  If I wanted those kind of restaurants I would go to Milan or Melbourne.)


Photo Credit:


So here goes, the top five are not in any particular order:

1. L’Hostaria Romanesca – Piazza Campo dei Fiori, 40 – Tel. 06 686 4024 Don’t bother calling as you can’t book and if you are lucky enough to get a seat you will have to wait a long time often for your meals. It consists of one small room inside plus a square of the piazza. There is a sign on the wall written in local dialect warning about the wait and not to bother the chef with complaints. But it is worth it. Dishes are individually and lovingly prepared, and spilling over with food of the highest and freshest quality. The Spaghetti Carbonara, Pollo con Pepperoni (only found in Rome)/chicken with capsicum, and Fegato alla griglia/grilled liver are the best I have ever tasted. But everything on the menu is good, cheap, and cooked with care and attention to detail. Try any of the specials as they will be seasonal and based on the chefs traditional knowledge. And while you are waiting you will have the spectacular Campo dei Fiori to watch – full of people, no cars, magnificent medieval buildings, and a statue of Giordano Bruno, the last person burnt to death there in 1600 for heresy. Reflect on how, if waiting for some spectacular Roman food while sipping wine and eating bread is the main problem you have at the moment, then life is much improved since 1600.

2. La Carbonara – Piazza Campo dei Fiori, 23 - Tel. 06 686 4783 You will be lining up often with international movie stars and politicians to get a seat but it is not a pretentious or expensive place, just a Roman institution. At the other end of the piazza from L’Hostaria, it is thankfully much larger so your chances of eating there are greatly increased, and they take bookings. Again it produces very traditional, high quality Roman dishes with just a bit more flair (and prices) than the down market L’Hostaria. The Fiori di Zucca/fried zucchini flowers, Saltimbocca alla Romana (veal with proscuitto and sage) are the best I have ever tasted and the Carbonara is on a par with L’Hostaria. Again you will have the Campo dei Fiori piazza to look out upon and will be entertained by a parade of non-stop travelling musicians.

3. Ai Spaghettari – Piazza di San Cosimato, 57-60, Trastevere - Tel. 06 580 0450 A beautiful, succulent and rich experience of a typical, contemporary restaurant, that has nevertheless been around for half a century or more. It is based in the most traditional part of Rome, Trastevere, a mostly pedestrian only precinct, which is now packed with restaurants and is an enchanting neighborhood to eat in. Ai Spaghettari is always noisy, has the television blaring, and is always full. A pizza oven greets you at the door and you can watch while your pizza is made, being flung up in the air and all. There are vast amounts of seating outside and in, and service and menu are both good, featuring lots of traditional Roman specials. If you don't book you may be waiting a while but you will get a seat eventually.

4. Pizzeria Popi Popi - Via delle Fratte di Trastevere 45, 06 589 5167 I avoided going to this restaurant for years as it looks like the typical tourist trap often found in Trastevere. Red checkered table cloths, tables set outside in front of a beautiful, white marble church, and filled with tourists. Then my Italian husband and his mates took me there. Now we know the waiters by name. Frequented by both Italians and tourists alike, its cheap and cheerful outdoor atmosphere make it a superb summer Roman dining experience (and indoors for Winter). They have a large and traditional menu (including pizza) and the food always tastes surprisingly good for its quick production, volumes turned-over, and large variety. Their Tiramisu is one of the main reasons we keep going back. By the way, once I asked the waiter what the significance of the name was. He told me it’s the sound that Italian men make when they squeeze the breast of a woman "popi, popi". Booking is optional, just turn up and the waiters will look after you.

5. Da Luigi – Piazza Sforza Cesarini, 23 - 06 6865 946 I stumbled on this place when I used to live around the corner from it and noticed it was always full with lines of people waiting. Hence I usually had to eat dinner next door in a grossly inferior establishment. Da Luigi is packed full with Roman families who like to keep this place a secret. It is squashed along the side of a tiny piazza across the road from Piazza Navona. Here you will find reasonably priced, down-to-earth Roman dishes specialising in sea food. It is noisy and always crowded and there is nothing to look at, but the variety and good reliable quality of the food makes up for it. The booking system doesn’t seem to work so be prepared to wait for a table which is never very long.


For more on Rome from Bronte Jackson check out her Rome Travel Blog:

You can also purchase Bronte's book Roman Daze recounting her time living in the Eternal City Rome in the Vita Italian Tours/Pronto Travel office in Melbourne; 1/25 Little Oxford Street Collingwood, VIC 3066. Call us to reserve your copy today +61 3 9080 3440.


Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author Bronte Jackson and do not necessarily reflect the views, opinions or position of Vita Italian Tours. 

Read Article ▶ UNESCO Recognises Pesaro

Wednesday, January 24th, 2018

UNESCO Recognises Pesaro - Pesaro is a tranquil seaside town in the region of Le Marche, and forms part of the central green heart of Italy. The city of Pesaro has recently been recognised by UNESCO as one of the creative cities of the world. Nominated as a ‘City of Music’, Pesaro joined fellow Italian cities, Milan (Literature), Alba (gastronomy) and Carrara (Crafts).

The honor of being a ‘City of Music’ is due in large part to Pesaro’s most famous citizen, Gioacchino Rossini, the world-renowned opera composer who was born in a small house in the centre of the city. His house is now a museum displaying information about his life and music. Rossini, created celebrated operas such as the Barber of Seville, William Tell, Cinderella, Othello and many others. In 1869 Rossini established, the Conservetoire of Music, a world-renowned music school and theatre that is frequented by artists and musicians from around the world. An opera festival is held in Rossini’s honor in Pesaro every year in August with performances of all his most famous work.

gioacchino_rossini_composer Piazza del Popolo Pesaro  

Mario, Viny and Gianni of Vita Italian Tours, call Pesaro home when they are on tour in Italy and have numerous tours that visit Pesaro and the surrounding cities and towns. One of these is the Opera & Food Tour, organised in August for small groups of opera lovers on request to coincide with the Rossini and Macerata Opera Festivals. Thinking of visiting Pesaro and Le Marche Region and would like a personalised itinerary? We can tailor a package for a self-drive or fully guided travel itinerary for families, couples, small groups or solo travellers. Contact us today 1300 842 444 or send us a message from our website, contact.


For more on the UNESCO Creative Cities List:

For more on Gioacchino Rossini:


Read Article ▶ Vita Italian Tours on RAI International

Thursday, November 9th, 2017

Vita Italian Tours feature on RAI International

Mario, Viny and Gianni of Vita Italian Tours were recently featured on Italian television program series 'Community'. The interview, in Italian, was shown in Italy and around the world on the international television service for the Italian public braocaster RAI.

There are approximately 100 million descendants of first generation Italians living abroad, and the 'Community' series tells the stories of these decendant who live in differrent countries around the world. The series also focuses on the family's immigration story, their life and tracing their origins back to their homes in Italy.

Mario and family were honoured to be invited to tell the story of their journey from migrating to Australia in the late 1950s. The interview also touched on the families early years in Australia to eventually becoming sucessful Tour Operators and Travel Agents in Melbourne. The venture completes the strong links the family continues to have between Australia and Italy.

To view the interview click on the link below. Apologies in advance to our english readers as the interview is all in Italian. 

Mario Vita Italian Tours RAI Interview

A big thank you to Paolo Massa from RAI for the invitation and for conducting the interview at our office in Collingwood, Melbourne.

Mario, Viny & Gianni

Vita Italian Tours/Pronto Travel


Read Article ▶ Culinary Delights of Tuscany & Emilia-Romagna

Wednesday, November 1st, 2017

After several years of planning we are very proud to introduce to you our brand new tour for the 2018 touring season, Culinary Delights of Tuscany & Emilia-Romagna, 30 May - 7 June 2018.

Parma BaptisteryParmigiano ReggianoCibo Italiano

It is a nine day tour that takes in the very best of the central regions of Emilia Romagna and Tuscany. The tour will be led by Vita Italian Tours founders and father and son team Mario and Gianni and will focus on new and undiscovered areas of Italy that many of our travellers may not have experienced before. There is a strong emphasis on wonderful regional food and wine throughout in beautiful centrally located hotels and a stunning Villa in Tuscany complete with a swimming pool.

Highlights include tours and tastings at factories/dairies/acetaie that produce world famous produce such as Parmigiano Reggiano, Parma Prosciutto and Balsamic Vinegar of Modena. As well as this there will be sumptuous banquet lunches and dinners in speciality restaurants and famous local osterie and trattorie. Apart from the food and wine there will be guided visits to cities such as Bologna, Modena, Reggio Emilia, Parma, Florence, Panzano, Montepulciano, Castellina and Radda in Chianti.

It is important to note that at this stage the tour is a one off departure and places are limited. We are only accepting 14 travellers on this tour and already have a number of clients booked.

Interested? If you have any questions or would like to request a complete itinerary of the tour please do not hesitate to contact us.


Vita Italian Tours/Pronto Travel

1/25 Little Oxford Street

Collingwood VIC 3066

Ph. 1300 842 444 (cost of a local call)


We welcome you to join us off the beaten track to discover Italy in 2018.

Cari saluti.

Gianni, Mario & Viny.

Gianni Viny Mario Vita Italian Tours



Tuesday, April 18th, 2017

Boboli Gardens Florence

Boboli Gardens in Florence get Gucci Makeover. The CEO of Gucci, Marco Bizzarri, announced on 4 April that the company would donate two million euro to the Uffizi Gallery in Florence for the revamp of the Boboli Gardens Park.

The project is known as "Primavera di Boboli" and is part of the arrangement settled between Gucci, The Minister of Culture, The Florence city council and the Uffizi Gallery, responsible for the maintenance of the world famous gardens, a special Gucci show "Gucci Cruise" will take place in May, 2018. The donation from Gucci will be used to restore the gardens to their original splendour and to regain its status as the Italian "Versailles" of Italy.

The 'significant' investment by Gucci has been welcomed by Dario Franceschini, the Culture Minister who hailed Fashion as an important part of Italy's cultural heritage. The project is also important as the creative director of Gucci's inspiration, cultural and aesthetic, has come from the beauty, art and cultural treasures of Florence.

The Boboli Gardens, situated behind the Pitti Palace, were originally designed by Niccolo` Pericoli in the sixteenth century for Eleonora of Toledo, wife of Cosimo I and continued by artists Ammanati, Buontalenti and Vassari. The gardens are the green heart of Florence with their historic statues, secret stories, hidden corners, water fountains, temples and ponds. The gardens are frequented by locals and tourists alike who come to admire the wonderful gardens, have picnics and to escape the busy streets especially during the summer tourist season.

Boboli Gardens Florence Pitti Palace Statue Boboli Gardens Florence Boboli Gardens Florence Italy


Pronto Travel/Vita Italian Tours organise private visits with our trusted local guides to the Pitti Palace and the famous Boboli Gardens. It remains a favourite destination for travellers when visiting Florence.




Thursday, December 22nd, 2016

Pesaro Winter Wonderland. Pesaro, situated in Le Marche Region on the Adriatic Coast of Italy, is getting into the festive spirit transforming the centre of the city into a Christmas winter wonderland. Named Pesaro Nel Cuore, which translates as 'Pesaro in our Hearts', the exhibition features an installation in the main square, Piazza del Popolo', of the most illuminated Christmas tree in the whole of Italy.

Piazza del Popolo Natale Pesaro Winter Wonderland

The tree is a centre piece of the square and shines brightly decorated with 70,000 white LED lights. The ancient buildings surrounding the square such as Palazzo Baviera, the Post Office and Ducal Palace come to life displaying colourful projections of giant snowflakes.

Around the ancient fountain with its tritons, dolphins and seahorses, the Municipality has set up a skating rink where all can enjoy skating, children, teenagers speeding around the rink, parents and grandparents together. The square also has market stalls placed around the rink selling hot sausages, angels and Christmas gifts. The Pesaro Nel Cuore exhibition has attracted visitors from all over Italy and Europe to celebrate the festive season.

Mario, Gianni and Viny of Vita Italian Tours, call Pesaro home when conducting their boutique small group tours in Italy. Wishing all our friends and family a very Merry Christmas and safe and prosperous New Year! Buon Natale!

Pesaro Christmas Tree

See you in 2017!