Last week, 15 amazing agents descended up Rome for our Bellissimo Italy FAM. For many, it was their first time to Italy and I was honored to be their host. We designed this FAM with free time in each city we visited. Strategically, we wanted agents to experience it in a way that made sense for their individual businesses. This actually worked out well. One agent decided to use her free time to visit the properties she books for her clients. Another decided to use her free time to meet with wedding planners in Italy. And others decided to explore on their own and get intimately acquainted with the country through the locals.
It rained most days we were in Rome. We were challenged with traversing the Colosseum in the rain and exploring the grounds of the Vatican with periods of showers. Nonetheless, I think every agent there understood the vastness of the Vatican and St. Peter's Basilica. I told the group that I thought it was one of the most complicated tours I’ve ever taken. We were in low season and there were massive crowds all trying to navigate the same corridors and experience the Vatican as best we could. The consensus from our group is that the Vatican is best done as an early morning or after-hours tour without the crowds. Listening to the history of Michelangelo painting the Sistine Chapel wasn’t without controversy. I hear a new story about something he did in the painting each time I visit. So much symbolism and meaning there that I decided to buy a book on the subject.
We were pretty centrally located in Rome. On previous trips, I stayed outside the city center, so a bus picked us up and dropped us off at each stop. Being centrally located means you can walk to most everything. We took advantage of that. The Spanish Steps and Trevi Fountain were a 10-minute walk from our hotel. Restaurants and shopping were right outside of our door. After a day or so, you felt like a bit of a local.
Our next stop was Florence. It was interesting to hear that most in our group thought Florence would be boring. Honestly, so did I on my first trip to Italy. It turned out to be most everyone’s favorite city. It’s like walking around in an outdoor museum. And the shopping! I digress. We did visit Accademia Gallery to see Michelangelo’s David. For one member of our group, the experience to see it was life changing. The extreme amount of detail in the sculpture was unreal. The veins in the neck and arms were so realistic that you felt like blood was running through them. It was intriguing to learn that Michelangelo actually dissected human bodies in his quest to perfect his art, explains why everything he did was so realistic. Michelangelo believed the art was always present in the block marble before he began. He said, “I’m simply releasing the angel.” Florence definitely romanced us.
After Florence, we headed on to Venice by train. When we arrived and exited the train station, one of our guests on this trip threw her head back, smiled with the biggest smile I’d ever seen and shrieked at the sight of the beauty of Venice. This guest happened to be a Gen Z. Seeing Italy through her eyes was amazing. We were all glad to see the water had receded. However, you could see evidence of the flooding Venice had suffered. The elevated walkways were still out but stacked up. A couple of the marble columns on St. Mark’s Basilica were damaged and some of the marble floors were still damp. We knew if any city would recover quickly, it would be Venice and she did not disappoint.
Many agents tell me that they’ve been to those destinations many times and don’t need to see them again. I’m of the opinion that Italy has many lessons to share and stories to tell. The more you go, the more you learn. You begin to take your clients off the beaten path with confidence and create travel experiences they can only get from you.
Arrivederci Italy! Our group was grateful for the lessons learned and experiences you gave us. Our trip was with ItalCamel. They did a fantastic job ensuring we saw the best of Italy. Our guides were fantastic. Particularly Maria and her sister Luisa. Extremely knowledgeable. Find out more about ItalCamel here.
A few of us stayed connected and was able to share our experience on social media because of Roaming Man, a CCRA supplier offering a 4G global Wi-Fi hotspot. I won’t travel internationally without it. We’ve affectionately deemed the portable Wi-Fi device “the man.” Want to be sure you have “the man” next time you travel? Click here for details.
All my best,
Vice President of Agency Education
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