Susan Van Allen (Frequent Dream of Italy contributor and author of 100 Places in Italy Every Woman Should Go) has custom-designed two small group tours (14 participants maximum) she’ll lead for women to enjoy the pleasures of the Italian Riviera and Florence.
These week-long adventures include luxury accommodations, female-focused tours of museums and sites with entertaining local guides, immersion experiences (cooking classes, ceramic painting workshops), spa visits, top food and wine and free time for shopping. Perfect for solo travelers, girlfriend getaways, and mother/daughters.
Click here for details about joining in on the fun this fall!
We also spoke to Susan about her upcoming trips…
DOI: What inspired you to create Golden Weeks in Italy?
SVA: For decades, I’d had extraordinary times traveling in Italy with girlfriends. That’s when I realized how powerful traveling to Italy was for us females—how wonderful it is to be in a place where women have been adored since the earth was cooling, (from the Goddess Venus, to the Madonna, Mammas, etc), and add to that the many sensual pleasures that open our hearts—breathtaking landscapes, gorgeous shops, fantastic spas, delicious food and wine, flirtatious Italian men! It seems as though Italy was custom-made for women.
That realization led me to write 100 Places in Italy Every Woman Should Go and the idea for Golden Weeks came to me at book presentations, when women in the audience asked, “Can you take me with you?”. It was their idea, essentially! So I designed these Golden Weeks just like I was going with my girlfriends.
DOI: What makes Golden Weeks in Italy different from other group tours?
SVA: Primarily it’s the female focus. It’s so inspiring to have museum visits curated specifically for us to see women glorified by Italian artists, and to discover Italian women artists—such as in our exclusive Vasari Corridor tour when we discover Rosalba Correira’s self-portraits. This aspect is not only enjoyed by Golden Week travelers, but my superstar local female guides, who have many years of experience, love taking this entertaining angle, totally different from other tours they guide.
Also, most other group tours are jam-packed with sightseeing, hopping from hotel to hotel, and leave no time for La Dolce Vita, which to me is an essential element of Italian travel. Golden Weeks are all about enjoying Italy’s pleasures at a relaxed pace, stopping to sip the prosecco, and fully immersing ourselves in one location, so we get to truly feel it, get to know the locals, and see things many travelers skip over as they rush around.
Finally, I honor that we women have individual desires—so there is a balance of group activities with time for independent explorations, where women have choices: shopping, visiting a museum, taking a journal writing workshop, discovering a restaurant on their own—all with me on hand to offer guidance.
DOI: What do you enjoy most about leading Golden Weeks?
SVA: What thrills me is the deep bonding that happens—amidst travelers from all over the USA and Canada, who come with diverse life experiences—my last group ranged in age from 27 to 81. There is always a fascinating mix of solo travelers, girlfriends on getaways, and mother/daughter teams. With Italy as the beautiful backdrop, I’ve watched friendships blossom that grow far beyond our week together.
I always get teary-eyed at our Farewell Dinners, when we celebrate the wonders of the week and say arrivederci. I’m grateful many women have returned to Italy with me to experience Golden Weeks in other locations.
It all affirms the life-changing magic of Italian travel!