At the National Gallery of Art you will find a painting of the idyllic valley of la Paiola, by Camille Corot, titled "A view from Volterra". But why not enjoy this amazing view in person? If you’re dreaming of a Villa in Tuscany, we know a lovely 12th-century farmhouse built on the pre-Roman ruins of an Etruscan villa that sits in a valley above 70 acres of olive groves with its own burbling stream.
This beautiful secluded property has a wood burning brick oven as well as an outdoor terrace and patio both fully furnished and perfect for dining al fresco or just watching the sun set.
But, if you want the Tuscan Villa experience without the seclusion, you can relish in the best of both worlds with a beautifully restored Villa featuring Tuscan antiques and ceramics situated in the open countryside just outside Florence.
Olive groves and cypress trees pave the way to this estate located within walking distance of a restaurant, just 1 mile from local towns and markets, and less than 10 miles from Florence.
This villa shares an outdoor pool with a neighboring villa and is easily accessible via train or bus. Both stations are a 5 minute drive from the villa. And you can easily branch out from the nearby train station to explore Siena, Pisa, Lucca, Cinque Terre, and Venice.
Many clients inquire as to the best time to travel to Tuscany? I find that Tuscany's best travel months are April, May, June, September, and October when you will generally find the most pleasant weather. However, this is also peak period for this region when the area is at its busiest and most expensive. I tend to prefer late May and early June before the crowds swell enormously or mid to late September when the crowds are dying down a bit. In July and August when temperatures hit the high 80's and 90's the summer heat can be grueling in some areas, making this a good time to head for the coast or find a shaded river bank.
Tuscany as a destination is quite popular so our best advice is to plan early to avoid disappointment. And through our trusted partners we have access to properties you won't find on internet travel clearinghouse sites. If you’d like assistance with a custom itinerary to help you discover the beauty of Tuscany contact Enlighten Excursions at 301-384-1519.
Caribbean Islands Open for Business!
The Caribbean is a vast sea filled with more than 7,000 idyllic, sun-drenched islands. While recent hurricanes have damaged a few islands, a full 70 percent of Caribbean destinations were not been impacted by Hurricanes Irma and Maria and are open for business as usual. And many that took a glancing blow or sustained minimal damage are open now as well.
Even more remarkable is that over 50% of the tourist accommodations on the most severely affected islands like Puerto Rico and U.S. Virgin Islands have reopened and are welcoming visitors.
Whatever activity you wish to pursue in paradise, you’ll have many destinations and many resort options from which to choose. Antigua, Aruba, Barbados, Belize, Bermuda, Bonaire, Cayman Islands, Cuba, Curacao, Dominican Republic, Guadeloupe, Guyana, Grenada, Haiti, Jamaica, Martinique, Montserrat, Nevis, Saba, St. Eustatius, St. Kitt's, St. Lucia, St. Vincent, Suriname, The Bahamas, Trinidad & Tobago, Turks & Caicos represent just a handful of the Islands we illuminate for our customers with authentic itineraries. Contact Enlighten Excursions to plan your Caribbean getaway.
by Stacey Goodale
Let’s face it— when most of us think of a Disney vacation we think long lines, overcrowded and hot parks, screaming kids and character meet and greets with Mickey, Minnie and lots of princesses.
What you probably don’t think of is an after-hours tour of the Vatican Museum and Sistine Chapel, private tour at the Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding for a behind the scenes peek at pandas in their natural habitats, or glamping in style in a luxury tent in Yellowstone.
Yet, these are just a few of the unique offerings that Disney has with their Adventures by Disney Vacations that will keep you away from the long lines and crowded parks and have your kids screaming with excitement instead.
These 5-star vacations provide culturally immersive, once-in-a-lifetime experiences that prove all vacations are not created equal. What makes an Adventures by Disney trip unique is the care and attention that is put into every aspect of your vacation from the moment you start.
Each Adventures by Disney trip includes 2 Adventure Guides, along with local experts, that ensure that you and your family become a part of the story. These guides give you a sense of connection to the people, culture and traditions of your destination. During an Adventures By Disney vacation, you don’t just see the sights, you participate in local traditions and activities. You can greet buddhist monks at a traditional “alms gathering” rite or paint boomerangs with the aboriginal Tjapukai tribe in Australia.
Each trip offers both guided time and time to tour on your own, as well as separate activities for kids and adults. Everything from your hotels and luggage, to your transportation and admissions is taken care of so that you can focus on the experience rather than the travel details. Because these trips carry the weight of the Disney name, you’ll bypass lines, have unique and unexpected experiences and personal attention that other small group tours can’t offer you.
Adventures by Disney has tours within to Europe, Asia, Africa, Australia, North and South America, as well as European River and Ocean cruises. Take an African Safari to see the Big 5, hike to Machu Picchu in Peru, dive into the refreshing waters of the Aegean, or mush your sled across the snow with an Iditarod dog sled tour. With Disney constantly adding destinations, you're sure to find one that is right for you.
Don’t have children? Or just want to get away on your own? Adventures by Disney offers adult-only itineraries to many of their destinations.
Right now Disney is offering a Book Early and Save for 2019 promotion.
Contact Stacey Goodale for more information on how you can book one of these exceptional vacation adventures!
Destination weddings offer this unique opportunity to gather everyone who matters most to you and spend quality time on a once in a lifetime vacation. Jamaica is a popular destination wedding spot because it offers a myriad of fun activities and unforgettable experiences. We tried to put together the top 10 list of things to do, but we struggled to even cull the list down from 20! So, we landed on 12!
There are just untold opportunities to learn about Jamaica’s rich and vibrant culture, and to meet some of the friendliest people in the world. So, if you’ve decided on Jamaica for your destination wedding, consider these memorable Destination wedding group adventures.
1. Tour the Luminous Lagoon: Located in Trelawny, Jamaica, the luminous lagoon is one of the most brilliant in the world, and home to millions of dinoflagellates. These microscopic organisms give an eerie glow at night, outlining objects in the water. Take your guests on the 45 minute tour, and let them jump out in the water and swim with their bodies surrounded by the luminous green glow. They will never forget it!
2. Hike the Blue Mountains: Observe nature at its finest, taste the world famous Blue Mountain Coffee, stop for lunch and enjoy breathtaking mountain views and magnificent waterfalls.
3. Explore the Green Grotto Caves: Explore the pristine waters flowing from depths of the Green Grotto Caves on the Northern Coast of Jamaica.
by Stacey Goodale
One of the biggest benefits of using a travel agent is industry-insider knowledge including knowing the real scoop on resorts and hotels in the hottest destinations. Armed with this information, and often first-hand experience at these properties through educational trips, a travel agent is able to make recommendations about which resorts or hotels best fit you and your family.
In 2017, according to the Knot, more than 45% of couples overspent their wedding budgets by an average of more than $7,300. In the Washington, DC metropolitan area the average cost for a traditional wedding that same year was more than $39,000. And New York? Foggeddaboudit! The average cost there was $76,944.
These costs for traditional weddings and the potential for savings with a destination wedding are part of the reason that destination weddings have become increasingly appealing. Mexico and the Caribbean are among the most sought after locations due to the prevalence of all-inclusive resorts in these areas. But Hawaii is also among the favorites.
Some of your savings come from combining the wedding and honeymoon, but you also save a great deal on decorations because nature does most of that work for you by providing amazing backdrops and scenery. It doesn't hurt either that many resorts have complimentary wedding packages and discounted or complimentary receptions depending on your group size and your travel agent's knowledge and negotiation abilities.
If you're considering a destination wedding, contact Enlighten Excursions' Certified Honeymoon and Destination Wedding specialists today!
Be it the vibrancy of the music scene in New Orleans, the diversity of cuisine, or the ever popular Wine and Food Festival, the Big Easy is easy to love.
Although, the city is bustling with visitors year round, you will generally find the largest crowds from February to May when the major festivals tend to occur. Hurricane Season, from June to November, offers some bargain hotel rooms, but from June to August you can also count on sizzling heat & stifling humidity. September to November offers bargains and milder temperatures but watch the weather reports.
Our favorite time to visit New Orleans is late April. You will typically find sunny days and steamy nights to add to the delightful adventure of strolling the city.
You may also get the added bonus of experiencing the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival.
Enlighten Excursions just added a new link to the Passport section on our trip information page.
If, like me, you geek out about great new resources you’re going to love this new online tool that answers the title question: Do you need a visa to go there?
Actually, for all those questions that we explorers have about visa requirements when traveling from country to country, or with foreign travel companions, we can now consult Passport Index an awesome online resource.
Let’s face it, Visa regulations are not always straightforward and every individual’s situation can be different and sometimes confusing. Passport Index tools can assist you in understanding what type of visa preparation you’ll need to embark upon in order to minimize your travel surprises.
If your dream vacation involves soft white or golden sand caressing your toes, crystal blue temperate water and state of the art resorts, then Koh Samui is worth visiting. Touting a vast variety of beaches and resorts, you can vacation your way in Koh Samui. From romantic secluded villas to boutique wellness resorts like Absolute Sanctuary, to deluxe resorts offering dining, shopping, and nightlife entertainment like Anantara Lawana resort and spa, Koh Samui’s resorts are diverse. Santiburi Beach Resort & Spa, Sea Dance Resort and Sawadee Sea View are also good value options for romantic getaways. Enjoy the warm breeze and the culture of Thailand at the location that best suits your budget and needs.
The destination offers exotic tourist attractions such as the Big Buddha Temple on a small northeastern Koh Samui Island. The 40 foot high golden statue of Big Buddha rests atop the shrine which has amazing views from its platform. Numerous visitors and devotees visit year round and is one of the most famous landmarks of Koh Samui.
Additionally, Angthong National Marine Park is a marvelous place to explore natural caves, magnificent rock formations and stunning blue lagoons. The Samui Aquarium and Tiger Zoo are two other attractions to consider as you explore Koh Samui. From bird shows to tiger shows you will find entertainment here. The Samui Aquarium also houses various sea marvels like giant catfish and sharks. You may also find yourself mesmerized by the majestic leopards, parrots, sea hawks and hornbills.
If you’re seeking an interesting learning experience combined with a little adventure, you might consider a visit to the Samui Snake farm. The Snake farm houses reptiles of various origins and sizes. Watch as snakes weave and writhe in the arms of snake wranglers. The shows are fascinating and highly informative. You never know when you might need to draw on the understanding you will gain here of reptilian defensive postures.
Koh Samui, Thailand is a beautiful, hospitable, place to visit and a great alternative to the ever popular Phuket, Thailand beach vacation.
If you want to explore more of Thailand on this vacation, you may want to start with Bangkok and Chiang Mai before retreating to your Koh Samui beach paradise. Either way, consider adding #KohSamui #Thailand to your #MustExploreList!