An increasing number of companies are acknowledging the importance of incentive travel as a motivating tool. And there’s more to it than simply booking holidays for your employees: incentive travel can be an effective internal marketing tool, as well as an opportunity for team building and productivity boosting. Italy, of course, is one of the most popular destinations in Europe when it comes to incentive travel. If you want to offer your team a truly unique experience this autumn, however, we suggest you skip the more obvious options and plan an itinerary that will leave them breathless, while giving you excellent value for money. There are plenty of hidden gems in Italy, small towns and natural wonders that have yet to be discovered by mass tourism. Here are our top 3 picks to visit this fall!
Incentive travel in the fall: explore Italy’s hidden gems
1. Sulmona – Abruzzo
Most tourists visit Abruzzo during the summer, to crowd its beautiful beaches and go hiking on its hills and mountains. In winter, however, we suggest you focus on its beautiful cities. Sulmona is one of Italy’s most charming towns, as yet unperturbed by the massive crowds of tourists that are wont to fly right past it on their way to Rome, Milan or Naples. It is famous for the local confectionery, particularly its dragées, which are known in Italian as confetti and are even a part of the local lore. According to a legend, they were invented by the nuns of the order of the Poor Clares, in the church of S. Chiara. The city centre contains several stunning medieval buildings, including the church of St. Filippo Neri and the 21 still standing arches of the XIII Century aqueduct. If you happen to visit during the Easter holidays, get ready for a treat. One of the most fascinating local traditions – alongside the summer jousting tournament – is the ceremony of the “Running Madonna”. Yes, you heard that correctly. This is a touching re-enactment of the encounter, as narrated in the Gospels, by the Virgin Mary and Christ after his resurrection. A statue of the Virgin in a mourning dress, upon seeing her resurrected Son, starts “running”. That is, the men of the Santa Maria di Loreto Brotherhood who are carrying it, start to run. It is quite a unique procession to behold.
The Dolomites – Trentino-Alto Adige
No fall or winter incentive trip is complete without snow. Well, that’s in every respect completely false: if you are not a fan of cold temperatures, for instance, you could go to Sicily. But if you want a proper winter wonderland, you should visit Trentino. The Dolomites – that part of the Alps that partly coincides with Italy’s eastern border on land, are simply spectacular in the cold season. Go skiing, snowboarding or hiking in Val Gardena: you will never want to leave. Simply choose one among dozens of beautiful and quaint villages close to the spectacular skiing facilities in the region and go exploring. If not all your team members are into winter sports, they will still find plenty to do: visiting the old towns and churches, shopping for unique wooden artefacts and tasting the local cuisine (particularly the delicious Malga cheeses and dairy products in general). If the snow has not fallen yet, we also recommend you go hiking in the local forests: you will find yourself surrounded by some of the most stunning natural sceneries in the world.
Bagheria – Sicily
When you think of Sicily, you are probably thinking of Palermo, Catania, Agrigento, or have a generic idea of beaches, volcanoes and cannoli. As you might have guessed, we are here to tell you that there’s more to it than that. Bagheria is a spectacular town, close to Palermo, famous for its magnificent villas. The best of XIII Century Sicilian architecture can be found here, where the ruling classes living in Palermo used to build their holiday homes and getaways. No self-respecting noble family in the regional capital could, at the time, not own a villa in Bagheria. These luxurious mansions bear all the overtones that make Sicilian architecture unique: Turkish and Moroccan influences mix with the baroque style that was the mark of that age. In one of these residences – Villa Palagonia – J. W. Goethe spent a significant part of its journey through Italy. He was particularly fascinated by the grotesque tuff statues, portraying monster and fantastic beasts.