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Posts Tagged ‘Italy’

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Glimpse ancient, spiritual sites with Friendly Planet Travel’s pilgrimages


People have been traveling to places of spiritual or moral significance for centuries. These pilgrimages are usually personal journeys or important rites of passage.

We’ve been organizing pilgrimages for our travelers on an individual basis for some time now. However, more of our travelers have been asking about them, so we’ve put together 14 new pilgrimage tours.

All of these tours take travelers to places important to the Catholic religion. They span the map, from Italy to France to Spain. These pilgrimages have the same great affordability and value as our tour packages, while allowing travelers to visit ancient religious sites as well as experience the modern culture of these places.

We recently issued a press release announcing these pilgrimages. To get the full scoop, scroll down and read what they’re are all about.


FRIENDLY PLANET TRAVEL OFFERS NEW LOWER PRICING ON 14 CATHOLIC PILGRIMAGE TOURS FOR 2012

New pilgrimage program takes travelers to Israel, Germany, Poland, Czech, France, Spain, Portugal, Bosnia, Croatia, and Italy

JENKINTOWN, Pa. — (TRAVPR) – January 18, 2012 — Thirty years ago, Friendly Planet Travel, a leading tour operator that has helped thousands experience high-quality, affordable vacation packages to exotic destinations worldwide, began its business as a group pilgrimage operator. Over the years, the company has gained extensive experience arranging pilgrimages to fascinating spiritual and religious locales. Today, Friendly Planet Travel has expanded beyond its previous itineraries, and is announcing 14 new Catholic pilgrimage programs designed to go beyond the traditional pilgrimage experience. In addition, these new travel programs offer lower pricing that will place these important spiritual adventures within reach of many more travelers.

“We take pride in offering the best service at quality prices, and this policy applies to our new pilgrimage program as well,” says Peggy Goldman, President of Friendly Planet Travel. “Travelers experiencing our pilgrimages will visit the most sacred Catholic holy sites and Marian shrines in the world. Plus, our programs will travel off the beaten path and into the picturesque towns along the countryside, exposing travelers to the cultural, artistic, and historical landmarks within these regions. Excellent exchange rates and land prices have allowed us to offer superior accommodations, itineraries, and services at a price among the lowest in the industry without compromising on quality. This is what differentiates our programs from others.”

All new pilgrimages include hand-picked, first-class and centrally located accommodations for excellent shopping and dining options; English-speaking guides; entrance fees; many meals; and an accompanying tour chaplain. In addition, these programs include multiple masses in ancient cathedrals and chapels, such as the Church of the Holy Sepulcher in Jerusalem, St. Peter’s Square in Rome, Santiago de Compostela in Spain, and St. James Church in Medjugorje.

Friendly Planet Travel has eliminated as many one-night stays as possible and limited groups to 25 travelers, making for a spacious and relaxed touring environment. For example, all travelers will benefit from a window seat, as Friendly Planet Travel’s pilgrimages tour breathtaking sites of Biblical significance, such as the Sea of Galilee, the 14 Stations of the Cross, Vatican City, and the Sistine Chapel.

The 14 pilgrimages offer the Catholic experience of a lifetime by providing the chance to see major religious destinations throughout Israel, Rome, Italy, Spain, France, and other places in central Europe. Additional sites unique to Friendly Planet Travel’s pilgrimages include stays in Rocamadour and Avignon in France, Perugia and Cortona in Italy, Dubrovnik on the Adriatic Coast, and Regensburg in Germany. Featured pilgrimages include:

In addition to the 14 published pilgrimages, Friendly Planet Travel offers large and small groups expert customized travel services and personalized components, providing limitless opportunities for unmatched spiritual and cultural experiences for all involved. Whether it’s one of Friendly Planet Travel’s planned itineraries, or one that has been completely developed by and for a particular group, the services and pricing will be exceptional.

To learn about any of Friendly Planet Travel’s pilgrimage specials, departure dates, and full itineraries, please visit the pilgrimage page on the company’s website. For more about Friendly Planet Travel, please visit Friendly Planet’s website; Friendly Planet Travel’s blog; or contact Jackie Zima-Evans at 610-228-2138 (office), 215-534-2973 (mobile), or write to Jackie@GregoryFCA.com.

Press contact:
Gregory FCA
Jackie Zima
Associate Vice President
610-228-2138
Jackie@GregoryFCA.com

Company Contact:
Friendly Planet Travel
Peggy Goldman
President
215-572-9594
PMGoldman@FriendlyPlanet.com

Italy’s history: Modern pictures of the past

Ciao a tutti! Italy is a destination for all travelers and is filled with some of the most interesting history, culture, and art in the world. It’s the home of the gladiators in ancient Roman times, the birthplace of the Italian Renaissance, and driver of the Age of Discovery.

And with all that history, there are more than a few sites that tell the stories of people long ago and give a glimpse into what their lives were like. So we put together this photo essay to show you some of the most important sites from Italy’s history.

First, a look at historical Rome.

This is the beautiful Colosseum in Rome, the largest amphitheater built in the Roman empire. It was the spot of gladiator fights, dramas, and re-enactments of famous battles.

The inside of the Colosseum. It was completed in A.D. 80, and could sit over 50,000 people.

The skyline in Rome is breathtaking, as the red brick architecture so widely used here makes it famous.

On to Florence, famous for its art, architecture, and heritage! The Piazza della Signoria is one of the most famous squares in the world and the cultural hub of this city.

The city is beautiful at night. Here is Giotto’s Campanile, which sits near the Florence Cathedral. It has seven bells, and took over 20 years to be built.

A bridge over the Arno River, the Ponte Vecchio in Florence has shops built on the bridge. It was built during Roman times, but now houses shops with jewelry, art, and souvenirs.

For more information on this beautiful country, see some of the posts we’ve done on Italy in the past. Do you have any pictures of Italy? Share them here or on our Facebook page.

Time is almost up to win an autographed Pauline Frommer travel guidebook

There are only few days left to win a signed copy of “Pauline Frommer’s Italy: Spend Less, See More.” The contest ends on Friday, June 24 at 11:59 EST.

If you’re planning on visiting Italy or going back to the country again, Pauline’s guidebook is the one you want in your hand as you travel the narrow city streets or open countryside.

Here’s what you have to do to enter to win. Tell me about at least one place or site you want to see in Italy in a comment on the original post.

Head back to the post now to leave your comment, and find out what Pauline will help you discover in Italy.

How to spend less in Italy: Win Pauline Frommer’s autographed travel guidebook

Guess what I found in the back of my bookshelf. More travel guidebooks autographed by Arthur and Pauline Frommer!

We got a handful of them signed after Melissa’s interview with Arthur and Pauline Frommer at The Philadelphia Inquirer Travel Show.

They turned up as we were packing for our upcoming office move. And obviously, these books aren’t guiding any travelers by just sitting in my office. Instead, I’m going to give you a chance to win one!

Pauline was not only kind enough to chat with us, but she signed a copy of “Pauline Frommer’s Italy: Spend Less, See More.” If you want to come home with money still in your wallet, it’s the best guidebook to have with you when you travel to Italy. ;-)

It gives you all the advice you’ll need to discover where to enjoy the soft Mediterranean breeze along the boardwalks, indulge in the fragrant olive and lemon groves, and experience the art, fashion, music, and architecture that flourishes in the cities.

And I can’t forget to mention the food, which has been described as heavenly. I can personally vouch for that, having been to Italy many times. Pauline’s book is really great in that she helps you find some of the best spots in the country to savor the best Italian cuisine.

Here’s what you have to do to enter to win. Leave a comment on this post telling me about at least one place or site you want to see in Italy and why. To be eligible to win, you must include your first name and an e-mail address where we can contact you if you win in the comment. The commenting contest starts today and ends on Friday, June 24 at 11:59 p.m. EST. One winner will be randomly selected from the pool of comments and announced on the blog.

Buona fortuna!

A look inside Friendly Planet Travel’s Iberian Coasts Cruise

I’m sure it won’t surprise you to learn that here at Friendly Planet Travel, we can’t ever over-emphasize the importance of world travel and cultural discovery. That’s why Peggy makes a point of encouraging everyone in the office to get out and explore Earth’s riches whenever possible.

ALL ABOARD: The M/V Louis Majesty

The benefit, besides being surrounded by travel enthusiasts, is that every Friendly Planet Travel employee can talk your ear off about how a trek to Machu Picchu or a cruise down the Yangtze River or a meal of tapas y cervezas in a Spanish piazza changed their life. That’s one of the reasons Peggy sent me off on Friendly Planet’s Iberian Coasts Cruise the other week. And over the next few weeks, I’m going to tell you ALL about it.

The nine-day cruise aboard the M/V Louis Majesty embarks from Genoa, Italy and spends time at fascinating ports of call in Marseille, France; Barcelona, Spain; Alicante, Spain; Gibraltar, B.C.C.; Tangier, Morocco; Casablanca, Morocco; and Malaga, Spain. As you can imagine, it’s a dizzying adventure to some of the most culturally significant and extraordinarily beautiful sights of Europe and Northern Africa.

Here on the blog, I’m going to tell you about my own experience on the Iberian Coasts Cruise, and give you an in-depth look at life on and off the Louis Majesty. So stay tuned, because I’ve got a head teeming with stories, a camera brimming with photos, and fingers that are itching to unload them all here!

Hot new holiday tour: Cruise the Iberian Coasts!

If the idea of icy roads, frigid temperatures, and chapped lips doesn’t appeal to you for the holiday season, take heart. Along with our Mediterranean Highlights by the Sea cruise, we’re also christening an Iberian Coasts Cruise this upcoming holiday season!

FP_France.jpgOn the Iberian Coasts Cruise, travelers will visit fascinating ports of call in France, Gibraltar, Morocco, Spain, and Italy, while enjoying superior accommodations aboard the cruise ship M/V Louis Majesty.

Let’s get the nitty gritties out of the way first, shall we? The package includes roundtrip flights from New York, an eight-night Iberian Coast cruise, a two-night bonus stay in Rome, all meals aboard the cruise, and daily breakfast in Rome. Vacationers can explore the ports-of-call on their own, or take inexpensive optional shore excursions. For all of this? $1,399.

FP_Barcelona.jpgNow for some of the juicy details. After arriving in Genoa, Italy from New York, travelers board the M/V Louis Majesty and head for Marseilles, France. Vacationers can enjoy all the splendor of Marseilles by visiting independently its must-see sites, including the Old Port, the Basilica of Notre Dame de la Garde, Phare de Sainte Marie lighthouse, the Centre Bourse, and the adjacent rue St Ferreol district (the main shopping district in central Marseilles), just to name a few.

After a day at sea, the M/V Louis Majesty will then dock at the British colony, Gibraltar, and then continue on to Tangier, Morocco. Outside Tangier’s bustling port, vacationers can take in the city’s stunning environs: hills surrounding a broad bay with a long stretch of beach.

For travelers interested in learning more about Morocco’s diverse cultural heritage as the closest major African city to Europe, a visit to Tangier’s Museum of Moroccan Arts and Antiquities would be a fascinating stop. Another not-to-be-missed experience is a visit to the Grand Souk, where  bargaining skills are put to the test while shopping for treasures such as brass, leather, rugs, and silver.

The next morning, the ship docks at Casablanca, Morocco, the largest city and main port of Morocco. And a city that I have a feeling travelers might feel to be the beginning of a beautiful friendship. ;)

After Casablanca, it’s back to the European side of things with Málaga, Spain. Málaga is one of the liveliest cities on the Costa del Sol, a 100-mile stretch of gorgeous Mediterranean coastline which boasts some of the best beaches in Spain.

FP_Barc2.jpgMálaga is also the birthplace of Pablo Picasso and home to the renowned Picasso Museum. There’s time to explore independently, as well as an array of optional shore excursions. But of course, travelers must be sure to sample some of Málaga’s sweet wine and tasty tapas.

The cruise continues along Spain’s coast with two more stops at ports of call at Alicante and Barcelona, before finally arriving back in Genoa on the tenth day of the journey. From there, vacationers will be treated to two more bonus nights in Rome at absolutely no cost to them.

The season’s first Iberian Coasts cruise takes place Dec. 25 to Jan. 5, and promises to be a culturally rich, historically fascinating, and scenically beautiful holiday trip. There are four other departure dates throughout 2010, running from February to December.

Christmas in September: Mediterranean Highlights by the Sea

It might be September, but it certainly feels like Christmas here at the Friendly Planet Travel office. That’s because I’m thrilled to announce the release of two new cruises: Mediterranean Highlights by the Sea and the Iberian Coasts Cruise. Not only are the prices on these trips incredible for the outstanding quality of travel, but they both have departure dates over the upcoming holiday season.

Want to do something with your family during the holidays that no one will ever forget? Leave the details to us. Today, I’m going to tell you all about the seven-day Mediterranean Highlights cruise for only $1,299 (and stay tuned for all the details on the Iberian Coasts Cruise).

How about spending Christmas Day exploring the ancient coastal town of Trapani, Sicily? Although most of the city has been modernized, much of Trapani’s architecture still reflects its medieval past and ancient heritage. Some of Trapani’s best preserved structures include the Annunciation Sanctuary, the Pepoli Museum, the Spedaletto Palace, and the Church of Saint Augustine. In additional to its rich history, Trapani’s westward position on the Sicilian coast affords some of the most spectacular views of the beautiful Mediterranean sunsets.

FP_Spain.jpgBut that’s just one day. Our Mediterranean Highlights cruise is a fantastic celebration of the cultural riches and natural beauty of the Western Mediterranean aboard the M/V Louis Majesty cruise ship, Louis Cruise Lines’ newest, completely refurbished addition.

Our journey is an exotic living mosaic, where every port recalls another magnificent era of castles and fortresses, ancient cultures, exotic art, and architectural treasures and grandeur. We’ll visit fascinating ports of call in Spain, France, Italy, Tunisia, and Malta while enjoying superior accommodations every night aboard our cruise ship.

Travelers are free to explore themselves throughout the day in destinations such as Marseilles, France; Sicily, Italy; and Port Mahon, Spain (to name a few). Or, take advantage of some of the inexpensive tours we’ll be providing.

This is one of those Friendly Planet Travel packages that not even everyone at Friendly Planet can believe. I’ve told you about how our good relationships with our suppliers often translate into savings for us, which we of course pass on to you! Well this is the perfect example of that practice at work.

The $1,299 price includes roundtrip flights from New York, a six-night Mediterranean cruise, all meals aboard the cruise, and group transfers. Not only have we been given very special rates for Friendly Planet travelers, but we’ve gotten a free one-level upgrade in our pricing from our cruise supplier. That means when a passenger pays the lowest price (for an inside cabin), they’re getting an upgrade to the next level of inside cabin for free. This same upgrade policy applies when booking the already heavily-discounted outside cabins. If you’ve ever been on a cruise before, you know what a great deal this is!

FP_Italy.jpgAnd it’s affordable for the whole family. Children up to age 18 (maximum two children per cabin) can share with two adults for free. The only additional costs are the taxes on the cruise and their cost at the hotel in Rome.

We’ve also struck a deal for our single travelers, who often get slammed with hefty supplemental fees when cruising alone. We’ve negotiated discount rates for them, so the supplements will be lower than cruises usually charge. Stay tuned for more information about both the singles and children deals.

FP_Rome.jpgAnd finally, after the cruise docks at its final port-of-call in Genoa, we’ve included an optional, free two-night extension in Rome. The flight to Rome is, of course, also included, as well as all transfers. While in Rome, travelers will stay at the centrally located, 4-star Hotel Genova.

This year’s Mediterranean Highlights cruise takes place Dec. 19 to Dec. 28, with six additional departures throughout 2010. As I said, the perfect holiday trip for you and your family! And keep in mind that December in the southern Mediterranean is gloriously temperate; perfect for taking in the view from the ship’s deck, enjoying the full spa, and spending days touring.
 

Attention golfers: Tee up for the Mediterranean Golf Cruise with Chuck Cook

Here at Friendly Planet Travel, we’re in the business of making people happy. And now, every duffer’s dream has just come true. Vacationers aboard our Mediterranean Golf Cruise, now have the opportunity to lower their handicap on ship and on the green with lessons from internationally renowned golf guru Chuck Cook.
The 10-day cruise aboard the MSC Sinfonia includes stops at ports of call in Italy, Spain, Monaco, and Tunisia, as well as all airfare, fuel surcharges, great hotels, transfers, many meals, touring, and more for $2,099. May’s Golf Cruise is booked solid, but spots are still available for 2009’s last departure date in October.
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And while you’re experiencing the marvels of the Mediterranean, you can cruise to a better golf game, too, under the expert guidance of Chuck Cook. The championship teacher will be conducting personal and group lessons on deck and on courses in Italy and Spain, capped with a nine-hole game at Golf Club Naples. Cook’s lessons are open to golfers of all experience levels, and you can sign up anytime onboard the ship.
The MSC Sinfonia embarks from Florence, Italy and docks at a new city each day, including Montecarlo, Monaco; Valencia and Ibiza, Spain; Tunis and La Goulette, Tunisia; and Catania and Naples, Italy, while it circles the Mediterranean Sea, ending back at Florence on the ninth day.
On their last night of the trip, vacationers enjoy deluxe hotel accommodations in Florence, located ideally within a short distance of many of the city’s major attractions, as well as the best shopping and dining in the "birthplace of the Renaissance."
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In true Friendly Planet Travel style, the low $2,099 price includes all ports of call, airfare, fuel surcharges, great hotels, transfers, some meals, touring, and more. Book by May 27th to enjoy savings of up to $600 per couple included in the deal price. And there are no extra fees or surcharges if you choose to pay by credit card.
Once you book, choose from three superb golfing packages, starting at $434. Not sure which package is right for you and your travel mates? Talk it over and book right up to the last minute onboard the MSC Sinfonia.
This cruise was created with golfers in mind. But of course, you don’t have to be a golf pro to have fun aboard the MSC Sinfonia. As always, this cruise was designed with all the Friendly Planet Travel features our vacationers expect, without compromise. Where else could you cruise through some of the most magnificent waters in the world while working on your slice in the morning, and dining on delectable paella in a town like Valencia in the afternoon?
For more information, take a look at the Mediterranean Golf Cruise page on our Web site, or drop us a line.

See the world, change your life

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I always say that seeing the world is the only way for people to understand it. And unless you experience a different culture for yourself, you’ll never truly grasp it. Traveling changes you forever; whether you’re touring ancient temples in Thailand, digging a well for a family in Borneo, or sipping wine in Italy.
And once you catch the bug — like so many of our vacationers have — you’re a traveler for life. That’s why I was thrilled when this particular customer testimonial rolled in last week. As always, here it is, completely unedited:
“I’ve been on six tours with Friendly Planet so far, and I have to say that those tours have opened up my understanding of the world. The thing about travel to foreign countries is that it changes you, leaving you with a much better understanding of the world, long after you’ve returned. Each tour I’ve been on has been exciting and different, even repeat tours to the same destination. One of the great things about the FP tours has been the amazing diversity of people on each tour; I’ve met everyone from newlyweds to retirees, all looking for adventure. Most of my fellow travelers on FP tours have tended to be well-read, well-traveled, and not fussy at all. They’ve come to taste the amazing foods and walk the amazing streets, not to buy trinkets and eat at McDonalds. Not surprisingly, many of us keep in touch long after the tours are over, and I’ve met more than one “repeater” on the trips to China. And I’m always surprised to find how nice the hotels are. One more thing is that going on these tours is really a good use of your time overseas, since you don’t have to waste time with paperwork, check-ins, deposits, etc. You just go have a drink or walk around the block and come back to pick up your room key. The guides are always funny, helpful, and go out of their way to make sure you have a good time. And there’s always plenty of time to explore on your own. Thanks again for the great experiences. I’ll be back in April to re-visit Thailand!
– Jeff Jenkins, Boca Raton, FL”

MSNBC features Friendly Planet Travel’s Western Mediterranean Cruise

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MSNBC picked up Wednesday’s Budget Travel article featuring our Western Mediterranean Cruise. Hop on over to MSNBC to see more information on how you can experience a Friendly Planet Travel cruise to Spain, Italy, Portugal, and Gibralter for just $1,799 if you book by March 27!

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About Peggy

Peggy Goldman is a specialty tour operator and travel expert, who owns and operates Friendly Planet Travel, a full-service company that specializes in tour packages to exotic worldwide destinations at affordable prices.   More about Peggy

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