The whole world is on my bucket list, Italy is pretty high up there though. I want to drink wine in Italy, buy a leather handbag, have dinner in a cave on the Amalfi coast, I want to do it all and I think I need to plan a trip for 2020. Let’s explore some of the things to do there, should you wish to go there too.
Dreaming of sipping an earthy Chianti amidst sun-drenched Tuscan vineyards and finding the time to plan an Italian wine trip are two entirely different things. Nevertheless, the experience that Italy’s 350 official wine varieties and 20 different wine-producing regions offer is well worth it. And with a few tricks of the trade, the planning for the trip can actually be part of the fun.
“With its extensive range of regions and varietals – not to mention the postcard-perfect scenery – Italy offers countless options for an unforgettable, luxurious wine holiday, a fast-growing type of vacation for travellers”says Mr. Jiten Vyas, Regional Group COO at leading visa outsourcing and technology services specialist, VFS Global.
Speaking in light of the Vino in Piazza – Wines of Italy exhibition, held in Monte Casino, Johannesburg at the weekend, Mr. Vyas says with ‘Made in Italy’ coming to signify quality at its best – more South Africans are looking for the authentic Italian experience. “From family-owned and produced wines to freshly-hunted truffles and hand-rolled pasta – wine tourism to Italy is a celebration of this.”
As a partner to the Government of Italy for primarily visa processing services across the world for the last 15 years, VFS Global currently provides visa services for would-be Italy bound travelers in nine countries across Africa – including South Africa and Botswana. “We estimate approximately 25,000 Italy visa applications per year to VFS Global’s existing operations Africa,” says Mr. Vyas, “In 2018 alone, VFS Global processed 875,000 Italy visa applications globally.” It looks like I’m not the only one who has Italy on her bucket list.
Here are three helpful tips for South Africans seeking a seamless, premium and luxurious visit to this exquisite location:
Knowledge is power
For many people, Italian wine still brings up images of red and white checked tablecloths and wicker-wrapped Chianti bottles – but there is so much more to the country’s wine prowess than the ever-popular Tuscany region. Getting to grips with what some of the lesser-known regions and varietals have to offer will mean you will be able to avoid the crowd and even impress a few locals.
Try hosting an Italian themed wine dinner as a fun way to experience some of the different types and show off your knowledge of other regions like Lombardy and its specialty, Franciacorta, to your guests.
Avoid the hassle and last-minute stress
When planning your travels, always book flights and hotels in advance. Do the same for visas says, Mr. Vyas. Italy accepts visa applications up to 90 days before your date of travel. So don’t wait until the last minute.
To avoid the anxiety that comes with waiting for a visa decision, Mr. Vyas suggests choosing the SMS service facility to track your application. If you are pressed for time and prefer personalised service, he explains that the Premium Lounge application facility may be a good option. There is also an optional Courier Service facility for the delivery of your passport at your doorstep.
Be the keen bean
While it’s not always necessary to make wine farm reservations in South Africa – this isn’t the case in Italy. You need to book in advance to avoid being all dressed up with nowhere to go in the Italian vineyards.
It’s important to do prior research on your favorite wine producers (which you may have gleaned after your wine dinner) to check their opening times, booking formats and what options they have for tours and tastings – as well as any special like winemaker-run tastings, chefs tables or food pairings.
For more details about visas for your wine trip to Italy, you can visit www.vfsglobal.com/Italy/Southafrica/ or call +27 (0) 12 425 3048.
So, who’s going to Italy with me in 2020?