by Susan Van Allen
I will treasure my visit here in memory as long as I live,” Audrey Hepburn said in “Roman Holiday,” after escaping her princess duties to have fun in La Citta Eterna. Inspired by Audrey and my immigrant grandmother who instilled in me a love of all things Italian, in 1976 I headed to Rome, checked into a hostel and had my own magical experience. It was a blur of racing through the Forum, standing awestruck in the Sistine Chapel and tasting my first gelato.
The spell was cast and years later my frequent visits back to Italy have put me among the ever-growing trend of women lured there. While both sexes enjoy the country’s artistic masterpieces, stunning landscapes, wine and fabulous food, the luxurious spas and wonderful shopping opportunities hold extra appeal as a girlfriend’s getaway. Additionally, the slowed down pace and welcoming natives make it a desired destination for women looking for a rejuvenating break from their busy lives.
Safety may be a concern for women clients. The fact is that crime has dropped, though special attention should still be paid on crowded city buses and in sections of Naples and Palermo. And while 30 years ago on that first trip I did get pinched, nowadays the Italian male’s flirting style is refined to an art form and many visitors (me included) appreciate the special attention. Visit Italy Tours provides excellent FIT assistance for single women or groups in every budget range.
Cooking Vacations International runs culinary programs for small groups (maximum of 12) in Positano, with accommodations at a private estate. Ages range from 19 to 85, according to president Lauren Birmingham, who lives in Positano, giving the program an insider’s expertise. Clients looking to immerse themselves in delicious and relaxing surroundings will be well served here.
Itineraries feature three hands-on cooking classes, lectures about Renaissance women, watercolor and journal writing instruction, as well as visits to markets, gardens and surrounding towns.