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Expert advice

I Traveled to Italy From the United States with Vacation Ownership, and Here's What I Learned

5 tips for planning your inaugural trip across the Atlantic

Laurie L
Sunrise over the verdant rolling hills of the Tuscany countryside, Italy.

I'm used to visiting places in the United States when I travel. It's easy. But traveling overseas to Italy was daunting for me, which I am sure is for many people.

However, after eyeing beautiful Borgo alle Vigne, a Hilton Grand Vacations Club online — I took the plunge and planned the trip.  

Not only was the trip worth it, being a Hilton Honors™ member and Hilton Grand Vacations Owner was an added plus. So, I want to share some helpful tips for other members and Owners traveling to Italy from the United States for the first time. 

Aerial shot of Borgo alle Vigne, a HIlton Grand Vacations Club, Italy.   

Book Your Suite

First, you've got to book one of the gorgeous suites at Borgo alle Vigne, in Selvatelles, Pisa.

You can choose a 1-, 2- or 3-Bedroom Suite, which features a full kitchen, a washer/dryer unit and a terrace for your stay. 

We reserved a 2-Bedroom Suite, which had two and a half baths and accommodated four people. Once you have your accommodations booked, you can plan around your stay.

 

Decide Where You'll Fly Into

The next most important aspect of planning is where you'll land when arriving in Italy, and I selected Rome. It seemed easier than hopping on a train in a country where I didn't know the language. 

Boy, we were very happy that we did. The other couple planned to arrive a day later, so we decided to stay at Hilton Rome Airport

Acient architecture with cotton candy skies overhead, Rome, Italy.    

Another reason it was a great decision to stay at this property was because we didn't need a vehicle until we were going to Tuscany. The Hilton Rome Airport has a complimentary shuttle that runs every two hours into Rome, picks you up, and brings you back.

It would have been worth paying for this benefit, but we didn't have to. 

Beyond the shuttle, the Hilton hospitality was unforgettable. We were only Gold members at the time and had no experience with redeeming member benefits overseas, but we weren't disappointed. We received a free room upgrade, lounge access and breakfast; boy, was the breakfast memorable. 

At first, they had a hard time finding our name. They had pages and pages to go through. (This Hilton hotel was huge.) Finally, they found our name, walked us through the entire buffet — all the way to the end, opened a door leading to empty tables, and sat us down. Then, they asked if we wanted something to drink. A little unsure, I cautiously said, "we want the buffet." 

They said yes, we have access to everything, but they would bring us our drinks. Then, they set down a little sign at our table that said: "Gold."   

And all I could think was, "what would happen if we were Diamond?"  

Couple riding on a vesa through the countryside, Tuscany, Italy.   

Plan for Transportation

Next, you need to make transportation plans. We opted for a rental car, but there are many other options for transportation.   

If you choose to go the rental car route, please investigate whether you need a license and ensure you have insurance. Many people use their private insurance, which covers rental cars but sometimes not in Italy.

Consider Your Itinerary

Then, narrow down what you want to do in Tuscany. 

There's so much to do within driving distance from Borgo alle Vigne. Wine and olive oil tours, top-notch golf courses, beautiful beaches, Florence, with all its amazing churches and Pisa, are also nearby. (How do you go to Italy without seeing the Leaning Tower of Pisa?)  

The most important thing to do when you get to the resort is to speak with the wonderful, and I mean wonderful concierge. 

We waited until the last few days to visit the concierge, which was a mistake. They speak English and Italian, so they can help you with everything from explaining local customs to parking rules in the cities to making calls and reservations for you. 

Don't Forget Your Plug Adapter

Finally, remember that Italy doesn't use the same electricity wattage as the United States, so when you buy your adapter, make sure it specifically lists Italy, some adapters exclude Italy.

Read "A Trip to Europe was Just a Dream Until Vacation Ownership Made it a Reality" for another Owner's story. 

 

Hilton Grand Vacations Explorer, Laurie L.

Laurie L

As an Elite Owner, Laurie has a home-away-from-home at Elara byHilton Grand Vacations, Hilton Grand Vacations on the Boulevard and Kings' Land by Hilton Grand Vacations. She joined in 2013 and says vacations are among the most important things in her life and a big part of her retirement plans. She enjoys traveling with her significant other and friends and is happiest with a bit of adventure (think: helicopter tours and biking trips). 

 

However, her favorite travel memory is touring an olive oil farm and winery while staying at Hilton Grand Vacations at Borgo alle Vigne in Italy. As a traveler who loves a good deal even more than travel itself, she's your go-to for tips on planning unforgettable trips that won't break the bank. 

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