Frequently Asked Questions

I’ve compiled some of the most frequently asked questions on everything from our travel services and tours to current writing projects to how I met my husband and ended up in the bel paese.

If you are a travel agent, please contact me directly to see how we can work together to better serve your clients.

Calabria and Sicily Small Group Tour

What type of traveler would enjoy the Best of Calabria and Sicily Tour?

The tour caters to English-speaking travelers who want to see a few highlights of Calabria and Sicily while also getting an insider’s look at the locals’ favorites.

This is not a flag-following tour, but rather an opportunity for travelers to immerse themselves in authentic Italy. As with all of our tours, many of the events in our itinerary are exclusive to our tour, meaning you won’t find them anywhere else online. In fact, many of these activities are so exclusive that we can’t even offer them to our private clients or guarantee they’ll be included in future tours.

How many people can join the tour?

Besides the fact that we believe the most memorable travel experiences happen in small groups, our hotels, restaurants, chefs, cooks and guides are either part of a family-run business, an independent provider … or someone’s mamma, all of which cater specifically to small groups.

The Small Group Heritage Tour(s) of Calabria is limited to a maximum of 10 travelers.

The Best of Southern Calabria and Eastern Sicily Tour and The Calabian Table Tour are both limited to 12 travelers.

What happens if I can’t make the group transfer to the first hotel?

We hope everyone can make it to the airport in time for the group transfer to our first hotel. However, if you can’t, we will help you arrange a private transfer so you can catch up with the group. Additional fees may apply.

How do I reserve my spot?

To reserve your spot, email Cherrye at cherrye@mybellavita.com. We’ll send you a registration form and a copy of our terms and conditions. Your reservation will be confirmed when we receive your deposit.

How do I make a payment?

Payments are made in US dollars to My Bella Vita Travel, LLC. Detailed information and a payment schedule will be sent with your registration form.

What should we pack for the trip?

I’ve written a variety of posts on packing for Calabria and southern Italy, including How to Pack a Carry-on Suitcase, Carry-on Packing List, Essential Travel Gear for Your Trip to Southern Italy, Five Things to Pack for Your Trip to Italy and Five Things to Skip When Packing for Italy. Additionally, a packing list will be sent to you in your final packet.

What if I want to extend my vacation?

If you want to extend your vacation, you are in luck. Cherrye designs custom itineraries and vacations and is happy to assist you in adding days either before or after the tour. Additional fees may apply.

I’d love to do the tour, but I’m unavailable for your published dates. Do you anticipate adding new dates this year?

We are open to adding new dates or even helping couples and individuals who contact us find a mutually-agreed upon date that works for everyone. If you have a group of six or more, we can do the Small Group Heritage Tour of Calabria as a private tour – exclusive for your group. If you have a private group of 8 or more we can do the Calabrian Table Tour or Southern Calabria and Eastern Sicily Tour. Contact us for details and availability.

Do you book flights?

I don’t-but I can either coordinate with your travel agent, recommend an agent to you for group travel or tell you about the airlines I personally choose when I’m traveling.

So, will you be with us on our tour?

You bet! I’m part of the team that created the Calabrian Table Tour, The Small Group Heritage Tour of Calabria and The Yoga in Calabria Retreat and the Best of Calabria and Sicily Tour. I wouldn’t miss ’em!

Custom Vacation Itinerary

Day 1

castle-trani– You will arrive in Lamezia Terme, pick up your rental car and drive to Calabria’s Ionian coast. You will check into your seaside hotel and have a chance to rest or explore the neighborhood.

– In the evening, you will enjoy a Wine-Tasting Dinner at a trendy new wine bar.

Day 2

castle-taranto
– After breakfast, you will push up your sleeves for a Hands-on Cooking Class with a local family.You will enjoy local aperitivi snacks and wine while learning to master homemade Calabrese specialties, then you will feast on your creations.

– Time and energy-permitting, you can walk off your lunch at the nearby Greek and Roman ruins.

Planning Services for Independent Travelers

Can you tell me the difference between a Custom Vacation and a Packaged Vacation?

They are very similar, however the main difference is the level of customization.

With a Custom Vacation, the traveler pays a $300 upfront fee to secure our services. (This is not an additional expense, it is deducted from their first invoice.) We spend several weeks going back and forth choosing their route, their base locations and hotels. Then, we fill in the details. About a month before their trip they receive a final travel package.

With a Packaged Vacation, travelers choose the itinerary they prefer, we confirm availability and final price and they pay the 50% deposit. Approximately two months before their trip, they pay their balance and a month out we send them a detailed travel package that includes their full itinerary, complete with hotel and other contact information, travel tips, ideas for “on your own” time, a selection of our exclusive planning guides, local specialties and more.

The final travel package is the same for both Custom and Packaged Vacations.

Can you tell me the difference between a Custom Vacation and a Travel Consult?

There are several important differences between a Custom Vacation and Travel Consult, such as…

With a Custom Vacation:
– 1) You are provided a full vacation package and per-person price that includes your hotels, tours, escorted day trips and in some cases, meals or transportation
– 2) I book and confirm all of your reservations
– 3) You are allowed unlimited email or phone access prior to your trip
– 4) You get 24/7 concierge service throughout your vacation and someone is available to make last-minute reservations or troubleshoot your trip while you are in Italy

With a Travel Consult, you are provided with the information you need to secure your own bookings and arrange your trip.

Are Custom Vacations just for independent travelers or can I have a guide and/or driver with me during my trip?

We love private tours and can often include extra fun elements that aren’t available to individual travelers. If you’d like a bilingual escort or driver, just let us know. We’ll be happy to plan your custom vacation accordingly.

Will you plan our trip or will one of your staff do the planning?

When you work with My Bella Vita Travel, you will be working with me, the owner and founder – Cherrye Moore. I will plan your trip and I’ll be the one communicating with you the entire time. If you want to include other regions in your tour, I will work with one of my trusted colleagues to help plan that section with you.

Can you offer advice on hotels or locations when I book my ancestry tour?

Absolutely. Approximately 95% of all of our ancestry tours are done in conjunction with either a Custom Vacation or multi-day Private Tour. In some cases we also put together a Travel Consult for our ancestry tour travelers who prefer to plan and book their own trip.

What is the differences in a travel consultant, a travel agent and a tour operator?

This is a great question because there is sometimes overlap amongst the three which leads to confusion. To keep it quick though, a travel consultant is a local expert, meaning she only focuses on a specific part of the world, in some cases one country, in other cases (like mine) part of one country. This person usually lives (or has lived for an extended amount of time in) the place she consults on and has an intimate knowledge of the area.

A travel agent is similar in that she helps her clients put their trips together. A travel agent can specialize in a country but oftentimes hasn’t lived there and/or may not have traveled to all of the places her clients are going. A travel agent can search for and book flights and cruises that travel consultants can’t or choose not to book.

I often work with travel agents who want to ensure they are offering the best service to their clients. The travel agent will contact me and together we’ll put the Calabria/southern Italy section of their client’s vacation together.

A tour operator packages trip elements into travel packages that they either sell directly or through travel agents. Some travel consultants (like me) are registered as a tour operator for legal business purposes.

Travel agents are paid by commission – why don’t you just accept commission instead of asking your clients to pay you?

When you book a custom vacation, there is more going into your trip than simply recommending a hotel or a cooking class. I am invested in my clients’ trips and I work with them to choose the right base locations, to map out their ideal route and to ensure the hotels, guides, excursions and activities are right for them.

It’s been estimated the average person spends 100 hours researching, planning and booking a vacation. My clients either don’t have this kind of time to devote to planning their trip or they want to ensure they are making the right decisions for their vacation.

Besides the fact that I’m being paid by my clients to plan their trips, I choose not to accept commissions from hotels, car companies, chefs or other vendors because I don’t like the potential conflict of interest. If I don’t accept commission from anyone, then my clients know I always have their best interest in mind.

Do you book flights?

I don’t-but I can either coordinate with your travel agent, recommend an agent to you for group travel or tell you about the airlines I personally choose when I’m traveling.

Private Customized Group Tours

What is included in a private group tour?

All of My Bella Vita Travel’s private tours are customized so we will work together to choose the itinerary and include activities-such as sailing, cooking classes or wine tours, excursions-like mountain hikes or archaeological visits and hotels, meals, expert guides and more.

Is the price all-inclusive?

The price includes whatever you want to include. Some groups choose to include everything – all hotels, meals, transfers, classes and tours in the price, while others prefer to includes hotels, a few group meals and two or three important group excursions.

How much can we expect to spend per person on a private group tour?

Price varies greatly depending on how many days you are here, when and where you want to go, the activities you want to include and how many people are in your group.

To give you an idea, I’ve created private group tours that range from €1700-€2900 per person – again, depending on the number of people in the group and their preferences.

If you have a budget in mind, just send me a message and let me know. It’s much easier to create the perfect tour for you when we know how much your group members are expecting to spend.

Will you plan our trip or will one of your staff do the planning?

When you work with My Bella Vita Travel, you will be working with me, the owner and founder – Cherrye Moore. I will plan your trip and I’ll be the one communicating with you the entire time. If you want to include other regions in your tour, I will work with one of my trusted colleagues to help plan that section with you.

Do you book flights?

I don’t-but I can either coordinate with your travel agent, recommend an agent to you for group travel or tell you about the airlines I personally choose when I’m traveling.

Private Heritage Tours

What is included in a private heritage tour?

All of our private heritage tours are customized and include as much or as little as you want.

That being said. travelers typically like to spend at least several days in their ancestral land. In this case, we’d include hotels, private transfers, train tickets to and from your ancestral region, your Ancestry Tour research and tour days and other unique experiences such as cooking classes, wine-tasting, guided tour days and more.

Keep in mind that we cover all regions south of Rome so we can help you with the logistics of other parts of your trip and help you determine the best way to get to and from your ancestral region.

Is there a minimum number of days for a private heritage tour?

Yes, there is. While we’d love to accept every request, we are only able to work on tours that are longer than three days and include at least two nights’ accommodations.

How do your heritage tours work?

All of our tours are customized, meaning travelers choose how many days and nights they’ll spend on their tour, whether they’ll have a private driver or rent a car themselves, how many days their bilingual Heritage Specialist will spend with them and what additional activities and excursions they include.

With the exception of one-day tours, we work with the travelers to choose their base location, help them select accommodations and make suggestions on day trips. Our ancestry tours are booked and planned per our Custom Vacations.

What does “advanced research” mean?

Each case is slightly different because what and how much we can do is directly influenced by how much accurate information we get from the traveler. In general, our advanced research time could start with your Heritage Specialist translating information you give us from English into Italian and contacting the local city hall(s) to confirm and correct the information the traveler gives us. He then travels to the village, meets with the city hall employees and continues to search for more documents, if needed. We use the information we find to locate the neighborhoods, street, piazza or home where ancestors were born. We look for the church they attended and inquire about cemetery information. We talk to locals about the family, how the town would have been during that time and in some cases, we inquire about and search for Italian relatives. It’s important to note that although we refer to this as “advanced” research, research continues up until and including the day of your ancestry tour.

It is cheaper to just hire a guide for the day. Why can’t I do that?

Our Heritage Specialists are more than guides, they have been trained and have experience with ancestral cases and know the ins and outs of dealing with the local city halls and churches. We have successfully led more than 100 ancestry tours and our company was the original heritage tour company for southern Italy. No other company or independent guide can match our experience.

What typically happens during an ancestry tour?

Once you are here, your Heritage Specialist will meet you, introduce you to the people he met during his research day and show you the home(s), neighborhoods, streets and churches from your family’s past. You will have a chance to talk to locals about your family and meet people in the village. You can visit the church or cemetery, if you like. You’ll have a full multi-course lunch, with wine, either in or near your ancestral village.

What happens with the Exclusively Yours! Add-on?

The Exclusively Yours! Add-on is for travelers who want to go further into their family tree or who want to find relatives still living in Italy. The add-on includes a professional genealogical research package and at least two on-the-ground research days so we can follow your family tree and search for your Italian cousins. Although there are never guarantees when searching for family, we have a 100% success rate in finding relatives with this add-on.

In the past you offered “Basic” and “Premium” Tours. Do you still do that?

In a word… yes! The difference in those two services came down to how much advanced, hands-on research travelers wanted or needed. Most travelers chose the Premium Tour, which allowed us to spend one day in their ancestral village prior to their arrival in Italy. Over the years we noticed that travelers who had booked advanced research had an enhanced experience and a more memorable tour. We are still available, on request and based on availability, to do one-day tours for travelers who are on a budget or don’t require advanced research.

Do you book flights?

I don’t-but I can either coordinate with your travel agent, recommend an agent to you for group travel or tell you about the airlines I personally choose when I’m traveling.

Romance Packages

We’d like to see other parts of southern Italy during our honeymoon. Can you help?

Absolutely! Our honeymoon packages are customized so you’ll get to see all of the places on your “must-see” list while enjoying the extra special romantic touches available through our packages.

I have other ideas for things we’d like to include in our honeymoon. How flexible are you?

We want you to have the most memorable honeymoon possible and we’d love to hear your ideas. If it is something either our team or our trusted partners can pull off then we’d love to include it in your trip. Ask away!

What is a symbolic wedding?

If you have already legally tied the knot but want a special ceremony – with or without guests – we can organize it for you. We can plan every detail, including food (and wine – we’re in Italy, after all!), flowers, cake, hair and makeup, photography, video and music.

Do you book flights?

I don’t-but I can either coordinate with your travel agent, recommend an agent to you for group travel or tell you about the airlines I personally choose when I’m traveling.

Small Group Heritage Tour of Calabria

What type of traveler would enjoy the Small Group Heritage Tour?

This tour caters to English-speaking travelers with Calabrian heritage who want to immerse themselves in authentic Italy. Many of the excursions in our itinerary are exclusive to our tour, meaning you won’t find them anywhere else online. In fact, many of these activities are so exclusive that we can’t even offer them to our private clients or guarantee they’ll be included in future tours.

How many people can join the tour?

Besides the fact that we believe the most memorable travel experiences happen in small groups, our hotels, restaurants, chefs, cooks and guides are either part of a family-run business, an independent provider … or someone’s mamma, all of which cater specifically to small groups.

The Small Group Heritage Tour(s) of Calabria is limited to a maximum of 10 travelers.

The Best of Southern Calabria and Eastern Sicily Tour and The Calabian Table Tour are both limited to 12 travelers.

What happens if I can’t make the group transfer to the first hotel?

We hope everyone can make it to the airport in time for the group transfer to our first hotel. However, if you can’t, we will help you arrange a private transfer so you can catch up with the group. Additional fees may apply.

How do I reserve my spot?

To reserve your spot, email Cherrye at cherrye@mybellavita.com. We’ll send you a registration form and a copy of our terms and conditions. Your reservation will be confirmed when we receive your deposit.

How do I make a payment?

Payments are made in US dollars to My Bella Vita Travel, LLC. Detailed information and a payment schedule will be sent with your registration form.

What should we pack for the trip?

I’ve written a variety of posts on packing for Calabria and southern Italy, including How to Pack a Carry-on Suitcase, Carry-on Packing List, Essential Travel Gear for Your Trip to Southern Italy, Five Things to Pack for Your Trip to Italy and Five Things to Skip When Packing for Italy. Additionally, a packing list will be sent to you in your final packet.

What if I want to extend my vacation?

If you want to extend your vacation, you are in luck. Cherrye designs custom itineraries and vacations and is happy to assist you in adding days either before or after the tour. Additional fees may apply.

I’d love to do the tour, but I’m unavailable for your published dates. Do you anticipate adding new dates this year?

We are open to adding new dates or even helping couples and individuals who contact us find a mutually-agreed upon date that works for everyone. If you have a group of six or more, we can do the Small Group Heritage Tour of Calabria as a private tour – exclusive for your group. If you have a private group of 8 or more we can do the Calabrian Table Tour or Southern Calabria and Eastern Sicily Tour. Contact us for details and availability.

What does “advanced research” mean?

Each case is slightly different because what and how much we can do is directly influenced by how much accurate information we get from the traveler. In general, our advanced research time could start with your Heritage Specialist translating information you give us from English into Italian and contacting the local city hall(s) to confirm and correct the information the traveler gives us. He then travels to the village, meets with the city hall employees and continues to search for more documents, if needed. We use the information we find to locate the neighborhoods, street, piazza or home where ancestors were born. We look for the church they attended and inquire about cemetery information. We talk to locals about the family, how the town would have been during that time and in some cases, we inquire about and search for Italian relatives. It’s important to note that although we refer to this as “advanced” research, research continues up until and including the day of your ancestry tour.

Do you book flights?

I don’t-but I can either coordinate with your travel agent, recommend an agent to you for group travel or tell you about the airlines I personally choose when I’m traveling.

So, will you be with us on our tour?

You bet! I’m part of the team that created the Calabrian Table Tour, The Small Group Heritage Tour of Calabria and The Yoga in Calabria Retreat and the Best of Calabria and Sicily Tour. I wouldn’t miss ’em!

The Calabrian Table Tour

What type of traveler would most enjoy this tour?

The tour caters to English-speaking travelers who enjoy unique opportunities and one-of-a-kind experiences. This is not a flag-following tour, but rather an opportunity for travelers to immerse themselves in authentic Italy. Most of the events in our itinerary are exclusive to our tour, meaning you won’t find them anywhere else online. In fact, many of these activities are so exclusive that we can’t even offer them to our private clients or guarantee they’ll be included in future tours.

How many people can join the tour?

Besides the fact that we believe the most memorable travel experiences happen in small groups, our hotels, restaurants, chefs, cooks and guides are either part of a family-run business, an independent provider … or someone’s mamma, all of which cater specifically to small groups.

The Small Group Heritage Tour(s) of Calabria is limited to a maximum of 10 travelers.

The Best of Southern Calabria and Eastern Sicily Tour and The Calabian Table Tour are both limited to 12 travelers.

What is the weather like in Calabria in June and October?

Both the early summer and early fall are beautiful times to visit Calabria, especially the mountain villages that are included in our itinerary. However, the weather can be unpredictable. The last couple of years we’ve have had nice, breezy nights along the lungomare as well as in the mountains. We’ll keep you updated about the weather as our trip approaches.

What’s so great about Calabrian cuisine?

Calabrian cooking is loved throughout Italy and has started gaining in popularity abroad. However, when you really examine Calabrian cuisine, you’ll see that it is as diverse as the region from which it hails. Although robust wine, homemade bread, fresh pasta, seasonal fruits and vegetables and the famous peperoncino are seen throughout the region, each area has their specialty. It is those unique ingredients and traditional dishes that we are exploring in this tour.

What happens if I can’t make the group transfer to the first hotel?

We hope everyone can make it to the airport in time for the group transfer to our first hotel. However, if you can’t, we will help you arrange a private transfer so you can catch up with the group. Additional fees may apply.

How do I reserve my spot?

To reserve your spot, email Cherrye at cherrye@mybellavita.com. We’ll send you a registration form and a copy of our terms and conditions. Your reservation will be confirmed when we receive your deposit.

How do I make a payment?

Payments are made in US dollars to My Bella Vita Travel, LLC. Detailed information and a payment schedule will be sent with your registration form.

What should we pack for the trip?

I’ve written a variety of posts on packing for Calabria and southern Italy, including How to Pack a Carry-on Suitcase, Carry-on Packing List, Essential Travel Gear for Your Trip to Southern Italy, Five Things to Pack for Your Trip to Italy and Five Things to Skip When Packing for Italy. Additionally, a packing list will be sent to you in your final packet.

What if I want to extend my vacation?

If you want to extend your vacation, you are in luck. Cherrye designs custom itineraries and vacations and is happy to assist you in adding days either before or after the tour. Additional fees may apply.

I’d love to do the tour, but I’m unavailable for your published dates. Do you anticipate adding new dates this year?

We are open to adding new dates or even helping couples and individuals who contact us find a mutually-agreed upon date that works for everyone. If you have a group of six or more, we can do the Small Group Heritage Tour of Calabria as a private tour – exclusive for your group. If you have a private group of 8 or more we can do the Calabrian Table Tour or Southern Calabria and Eastern Sicily Tour. Contact us for details and availability.

Do you book flights?

I don’t-but I can either coordinate with your travel agent, recommend an agent to you for group travel or tell you about the airlines I personally choose when I’m traveling.

So, will you be with us on our tour?

You bet! I’m part of the team that created the Calabrian Table Tour, The Small Group Heritage Tour of Calabria and The Yoga in Calabria Retreat and the Best of Calabria and Sicily Tour. I wouldn’t miss ’em!

Vacation Packages

Can you tell me the difference between a Custom Vacation and a Packaged Vacation?

They are very similar, however the main difference is the level of customization.

With a Custom Vacation, the traveler pays a $300 upfront fee to secure our services. (This is not an additional expense, it is deducted from their first invoice.) We spend several weeks going back and forth choosing their route, their base locations and hotels. Then, we fill in the details. About a month before their trip they receive a final travel package.

With a Packaged Vacation, travelers choose the itinerary they prefer, we confirm availability and final price and they pay the 50% deposit. Approximately two months before their trip, they pay their balance and a month out we send them a detailed travel package that includes their full itinerary, complete with hotel and other contact information, travel tips, ideas for “on your own” time, a selection of our exclusive planning guides, local specialties and more.

The final travel package is the same for both Custom and Packaged Vacations.

What if I pay for a Packaged Vacation, then don’t like the hotels that are included in the package?

This has never happened, however if for any reason you pay your deposit and don’t like one of the hotels, we will discuss alternatives and look at other accommodations. The price of the trip might change, however, depending on your new choices.

Can I combine 2-3 Packaged Vacations for my trip?

Absolutely! Just let us know which elements you like from each Packaged Vacation. If extensive changes are needed to make the various itineraries fit together, though, we will probably be better off booking your trip as a Custom Vacation. Everything is the same – there are no additional fees for customizing a trip. The only difference is that we request a $300 upfront fee (that is deducted from your first invoice) before we customize vacations.

Do you book flights?

I don’t-but I can either coordinate with your travel agent, recommend an agent to you for group travel or tell you about the airlines I personally choose when I’m traveling.

Writing Projects

Where else can we find your work?

Cherrye has contributed to the southern Italy section for DK Eyewitness and Michelin Guide books and has been published by The Guardian, Dream of Italy, The Italian Notebook, easyJet Traveller (inflight magazine) and a variety of other travel journals.

Can you write a guest post for my website/blog?

We’d love to. Guest posts enrich the blogosphere and we are happy to contribute a guest post for like-minded sites. Our lead time can be several months, but feel free to shoot us an email and we can discuss.


Thank you for stopping by…Cherrye

If you have any questions, please contact me.

Contributing Writer for:

DKTravel1Michelin
Calabria Travel Tips

Calabria Travel Tips e-Book!

Don't Get Caught with Dirty Drawers … and 98 other tips for traveling in Calabria!

I’m Cherrye Moore, a Texas-born freelance writer, travel consultant and bed and breakfast owner in Calabria. This 13-page PDF booklet is the result of my personal experiences of traveling throughout Calabria, this as well as a compilation of the most common mistakes Calabria-bound travelers make when visiting this region.