There is nothing quite like the feeling of arriving in a new city.
Experiencing a new way of life, a new culture, foreign smells, sights and sounds. Nothing beats it. It’s why we travel.
There is also no amount of research or independent planning that can give you a truly local experience when you travel overseas, leaving you prey to tourist traps and inauthentic experiences.
If your clients are not for a packaged holiday or joining a multi-day tour group, taking one of Intrepid’s Urban Adventures at the start of their trip could be just the ticket.
Aimed at more independent, off-the-beaten-path travellers, Urban Adventures tours are the antidote to the tourist trap offering travellers a short, intimate look at a city guided by those who know it best: locals.
With over 1,000 tours in 170 destinations around the world, the tours are 100 per cent locally designed, led, and tailored to give back to the communities they visit – from supporting family-run businesses to partnering with local NGOs.
Last month, while galivanting about the Italian countryside, Travel Weekly was lucky enough to tag along on Urban Adventures’ Florence Foodies Walk where we got some invaluable insider tips that made our time in the city of lilies that much sweeter.
Our group, led by born and bred Florentine Viola Ferrini, was a small one with only nine members (maximum group size is 12) which felt more akin to a group of friends going for a stroll through a new city but with the added advantage of being led by somebody who knew all the best spots.
We visited six local businesses in total, including ‘real’ gelato (which, Ferrini noted, doesn’t have to come in fancy waves with loads of trimmings), antipasto sourced from a local farm, a decadent chocolateria, olive oil and balsamic vinegar tastings, authentic Florentine breakfast cakes, truffle sandwiches and the all-important aperitif — a delicious Chianti.
For us, the stand-out stop on the tour was Alimentari Uffizi. Here, we sampled locally sourced antipasto brought directly from the shop owner’s farm, while he told us (translated by Ferrini) step by step the journey the food on our plates went through to reach us. As independent travellers, this experience would have been out of our reach if it wasn’t for Ferrini.
Our favourite part was the conversations we had with Ferrini while walking from one delicious destination to the next, where she constantly pointed out hidden local haunts from the bars with the best drink specials to the most authentic leather shop. She was more than happy to answer any questions we had and gave us so many recommendations.
By the time we said goodbye to Ferrini and the gang, we were eager to see the new side of Florence we had been exposed to. Armed with two and a half hours worth of local knowledge (and very full bellies), the overwhelming feeling of arriving in a new city full of places and things to see had the edge taken off it. Florence became an open book we could not wait to read.