Last year’s Venice Biennele and Milan Expo were top draws for Italy. The new year brings new events sure to pique client interest.
Not that Italy ever needs extra incentives.
“No matter what happens in the world, people will always ask for Italy. I expect 2016 will be very strong for all of Europe actually,” Jody Bear, co-owner of Bear & Bear Travel tells Travel Agent.
Joyce Falcone, founder of specialty tour operator The Italian Concierge, cites some noteworthy events taking place this year.
“I’m very excited about the new Christo project on Lake Iseo this summer,” Falcone tells Travel Agent.
The small lake is located in northern Italy, sixty miles east of Milan. Christo’s first outdoor installation since his 2005 “Gates” transformed Central Park promises to be just as noteworthy. The artist is assembling a walkway upon the lake to connect its islands to the mainland. The walkway is made up of 200,000 buoyant cubes covered by shimmering fabric that will change color according to the light.
Weather permitting, “The Floating Piers” installation will run from June 18 to July 3. Agents can learn more details by visiting the project web site, http://www.thefloatingpiers.com.
Additional events attracting a specialty clientele include the Salone del Gusto and thirtieth anniversary of Slow Food Italy. The biennial exhibit attracts food producers, experts and chefs from around the world and “is always terrific,” said Falcone. For more information, visit https://www.slowfoodusa.org/terra-madre-salone-del-gusto-2016.
This year’s event, Terra Madre Salone del Gusto, takes place from September 22 to 26. Venues throughout the Piedmont Region will include Reggia di Venaria, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
As for other attractions to keep in mind for clients, “Pompeii just opened new section. It will be all the rage for clients. I always recommend (the nearby) Herculaneo instead. It’s better preserved, smaller, easier to get into and less crowded. But clients want bragging rights,” said Falcone.
Ashley Ganz, owner of Artisans of Leisure says Europe is definitely hot at the moment. Italy continues to be a top-seller. In addition to perennial favorites such as Venice, Florence, Rome and Tuscany, Ganz is expanding her offerings for 2016.
“We’re about to launch all-new private tours in Puglia,” Ganz tells Travel Agent.
Italy’s southeastern tip (the “boot”) has much to offer, adds Falcone.
“Puglia is wonderful. The infrastructure is good, the roads are flat. And there are lovely places to stay. You have many masserie, or fortified farmhouses that have been converted into hotels. The food is amazing and you have the advantages of being on the coast,” Falcone.
Tour operator Backroads is expanding offerings for different parts of Italy as well. New programs include a Tuscan Coast bike tour for 2016 as well as a Parma to Verona tour.
And the Eternal City’s allure for Catholic travelers is even stronger in 2016. Pope Francis has declared an extraordinary Jubilee Year: The Holy Year of Mercy. It began on December 8, 2015, with the opening of the special Holy Door of St. Peter's Basilica in Rome. Three other Holy Doors have also opened in Rome, at the basilicas of St. John Lateran, St. Mary Maggiore and St. Paul’s Outside the Walls.
The faithful believe that a walk through the Holy Doors offers forgiveness from sins.
Jubilees have taken place every 25 or 50 years since the Middle Ages, with Popes sometimes calling “extraordinary” jubilees. The last one, by Pope John Paul II in 2000, attracted 25 million tourists to Rome.
This year’s numbers are expected to be even higher. Agents with clients interested in Rome (religious or not) should plan accordingly.
“I know Rome is full even now in January. That’s what all the tour guides are telling me,” said Falcone.