Marcy called me at work one afternoon last fall and announced that Gate1 Travel was having a flash sale for independent travel to Italy – just $499 for an 8 day “Heart of Tuscany” tour including airfare from New York, car, hotel, and breakfast. It sounded way too good to be true, but we called and found that was indeed the price – I don’t know how they could price the package at that low rate, but there is was. I was in the right mood, so I agreed to have Marcy to sign us up. We did buy trip insurance and upgraded the size of the car, so the final total wound up being around $1,500 for both of us. Still, you can hardly take a long weekend local trip for that. The real caveat was that the window for travel was January to April – Winter in Italy to be sure, and the 8 days included what amounted to four driving/flying days, but hey, it was Italy!
For airlines, we had the choice of Alitalia or Emirates. Alitalia would have given us Delta miles, but it was an additional cost and we figured we would try Emirates. We were glad we did. I think one reason our trip was so cheap was that Emirates needed to fill their huge Airbus A380s running between JFK and Milano Malpensa. Our Emirates experience deserves its own entry, so look for that story elsewhere in the blog.
The package itinerary had us landing at noon in Milan, picking up the rental car, then driving 3½ hours south to Montecatini Terme, which is centered between Florence, Siena, Luca and Pisa.
Gate1 provide a suggested itinerary, but we were really on our own to choose what we wanted to do each day. We had choices of trips to the cities mentioned above, plus driving tours through the Tuscan countryside.
The 7th day of the trip had us traveling back to a hotel near the Milan airport so we could be staged and ready to fly back the next day.
Our trip was full of adventure and the many individual stories are found separately here in the blog, but I wanted to cover the overall scope of our trip here in case anyone is interested in this same kind of package.