Adventures by Disney goes all over the world and every destination is amazing. But trip developer Bruce Austin tells us that adventurers seem to have a special love for Italy. Maybe it’s the rich legacy of art and culture Italy has given us, or maybe it’s the amazing Italian food! Whatever the reason, Adventures by Disney’s Italian itineraries have ranked among its most popular since the first Italian trip in 2007.
Now, Adventures by Disney has made the Italian experience even more remarkable. The enhanced Italy itinerary includes private tours of the Vatican Museum and the Sistine Chapel “These are experiences that it would be very difficult to do on your own unless you planned it months in advance and were willing to pay quite a bit of money and go at a certain time on a certain day only,” says Bruce. “Very few people are able to do this, but we make it effortless – and it’s all included for our Guests. Last year I got one of my all-time favorite emails from a Guest, saying ‘being alone with our group in the Sistine Chapel was worth the price of the entire trip by itself.’”
Adventure Guide Dusty Atha, who has been guiding Adventures by Disney Italian itineraries since the beginning, can vouch for the experience first-hand. “The Vatican tour is probably the number one experience I’ve had anywhere in the world. We go in after the Vatican closes with just our group, two guards, our local guides, and the guy I call the keymaster who has a giant keyring and can let us in anywhere. That means that the local guide can name any piece of art in the Vatican, and this gentleman will let us in to see it. In the Sistine Chapel, we have special permission to sit on the floor, look up at the ceiling and have the local expert explain the art panel by panel right there. When we first visited I was actually crying. It was so amazing to look up at the creation of Adam and realize you’re standing right under where Michelangelo painted it; it takes your breath away.”
Adventures by Disney Guests also enjoy a special private tour of the Palazzo Vecchio in Florence. “Not only do we get to see the Palazzo without the crowds,” Dusty says, “but the Medici had a secret passage connecting their palace to the Florentine city hall, and we get to go in those secret passages!” Other highlights include cooking lessons, wine-tastings, an art-detective game for Junior Adventurers at the Doge’s Palace, and a grand masked ball in a Venetian palazzo on the farewell evening. Special note from Dusty: this takes place in the very ballroom where Casanova once held his revels.
In case you’re worried that kids won’t enjoy treks through museums and palaces, Dusty assures us that, “Kids respond well to the museums because of the way we do them. We do games and bring to life the artwork with stories. They’re beyond engaged. The Junior Adventurers usually take longer to meet back up with the main group because they’re having more fun than the adults! And Christina, our local expert in Rome, really knows the city and knows how to make it exciting for everyone.”
Dusty shared a few trip tips he’s gathered over the years. “Come with elastic pants! You’re going to eat a lot. Italy has the best food in the world. We do meal experiences together that let you learn about the local products and experience amazing settings, but we also have snacks and water and magical surprises along the way. I’m not giving away any secrets, but let’s just say that Italy is really known for a little thing called gelato.”
And as to what to pack for this international delight, Dusty says, “Bring a power strip. Because of today’s technology, everyone has their devices and they want to plug them all in overnight, and most overseas hotels have only one or two outlets. And with Adventures by Disney, there’s no need to worry about hauling around extra weight in your bags, because you have magical luggage as we call it — your luggage is handled for you throughout your adventure. You really see it when we travel by train. We can hop on the train without carrying anything along, and then at the other end we can just get off the train in Venice and hop right into a gondola while the other travelers are struggling with their luggage.”
Beyond the delicious treats, VIP treatment, and unique experiences, every Adventures by Disney trip offers something very special to travelers … something very Disney. “There’s one very special experience I’ll never forget,” Dusty tells us. “We were at our farewell dinner a few years ago. We were going around the room sharing our favorite memories of the adventure. People were mentioning different places we’d visited and thing we’d seen, and then when we came to one family the kids said that what made it special was the Adventure Guides, and they didn’t want to go home.”
He goes on to recall, “I looked at their father and he was tearing up. He was a really macho guy and all through the adventure we didn’t think we were getting through to him. When it was his turn to share, he could hardly talk because he was so choked up, but he said that this trip had brought his family back together; they were going through a rough time and this had really helped them. That means more to us than anything.
“We see people reconnect and also making new connections. We’ve had families meet and then plan to travel together every year. Disney has so much wizardry, it’s able to make wonderful memories for all of our Guests.”
As you might imagine, Dusty says, “This is the job of a lifetime, because it’s not really a job. They say you can’t call it a job if you do what you love all day. I get to showcase the cultures of the world and help Guests connect with these cultures and each other. To me there’s more magic in that than in anything else in the world.”
That magic is out there waiting for you. Visit their website to learn more about this Italy adventure, and all the other journeys that Adventures by Disney offers.