What makes Culture Discovery Vacations different? You see it all over our website. Family, Family, Family. This is not a marketing term for us. It is the way we operate. It may sound like just a word to some, but it is what makes us so different and special. We remove a level of professionalism from what we do to create a more immersive experience. Almost everyone responds well to the family feel of what we do, but it can feel counter-intuitive for some being that we don’t know each other yet. For example, our cooking classes are like a group of friends cooking together, and the person teaching is “sharing” knowledge and recipes. We are not “instructing a class of pupils”.
- Embrace the Italian Culture
- Our Partners are our friends and we are their guests
- Italian food varies from region to region
- Our excursions are “outings” not “tours”
- Our tours are busy – but you can take a break
Embrace the Italian Culture
The vacations we provide are centered around having an authentic cultural experience. What does this mean? Let’s say you want to have eggs for breakfast, that’s fair, in the US, eggs are a normal and healthy breakfast. In Italy however, eggs are just not a breakfast item in Italy. If you’re traveling in touristy spots, you might be able to find a place that will serve eggs for breakfast, but they are catering specially to the American tourist. This is the place CDV wants to avoid because it is at odds with what we are trying to convey.
The magic of what we do is that we immerse our guests in true Italian culture. We are CULTURE DISCOVERY Vacations. Of course, we don’t force you to abide by these cultural traditions. If you really want eggs for breakfast, you can buy them at the store and cook them before we meet in the mornings.
Our Partners are Our Friends and We are Their Guests
The majority of what we do is in small towns, outside the hustle and bustle of the city. We go to small family wineries and restaurants, they don’t accommodate to mass tourism in Italy. These people are our friends, in fact, they were invited to my wedding. The distinction is significant, and there’s different expectations. We aren’t treated like clients, rather as invited guests. Because of this difference in our relationship, there is a understanding that we will respect their culture. When we are in someone’s home for dinner, we simply recognize that we are invited guests in someone’s home, rather than customers in a restaurant.
Italian Food Varies from Region to Region
What are the first foods you think of when you think of Italian food? Pizza and Pasta? There is so much more to Italian food. Italy is a big country, and different ingredients are available locally from region to region. Since Italians mainly cook with fresh local ingredient, their foods vary great depending on where you are.
When you are with us, we are going to be honoring the culture of the region that we are in. On our Small Island Sicily Cooking Vacation, there is a great deal of seafood, this is because a large portion of their cuisine is centered around tuna. On our Soriano Tuscany and Umbria Cooking Vacations or Chianti Tuscany Cooking Tours, the cuisine is more centered around pork. You’ll find prosciutto, salami, porchetta and sheep cheeses like pecorino and ricotta.
Traditionally, across Italy, a first course is a pasta dish and the second course is a protein dish.
If you have food allergies of other limitations, we can always accommodate and provide alternatives. For example, the person that suffers Celiac disease will have options, albeit limited, when we go to a restaurant. When we make pasta in class, we are happy to prepare store-bought rice pasta on the side. But, we are still making traditional pasta in the class.
We do all we can to accommodate, but when we are eating out, we are at small establishments. Choices will be limited, so there will not be a full menu of alternatives. They will always do what they can to accommodate as gracious hosts, but we are also expected to be gracious guests.
Our excursions are Outings, not Tours
When you have friends and family visiting you from out of town, do you take them on a fully structured guided tour of your city? Probably not. Our entire company is centered around the culture of family. We treat every guest like a close family friend, as such, we approach every part of our vacation this way. Our team are not “tour guides”, they are hosts. They know more than the average person, but their focus is on giving you a sense of the culture, not a history lesson.
Because of this, we don’t know the answer to every question, but we will do our best to find out. We might not know when that tower was built, what kind of tree that is, or how the plumbing in this town works. Yes, people have asked me all these questions, I still cant answer that last one. It isn’t that we are against the idea of educational tours by any means. They cause us to change the dynamic of who we are and how we interact with our guests.
Our Tours are Busy, but You Can Take a Break
Since our italy vacations are all-inclusive, we make sure that there is quite a bit to do on our itineraries. If you do it all, you may think that there is too much going on, and want some down time. Guests have sometimes told us that we should give some “free time” on our schedule. Free time is available simply by opting out of some of the things we have on the itinerary. We have all sorts of opportunities for you to opt out and re-join us at other times. We feel it is our duty to give you the choice to always be on the go, or to do your own thing.