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60 seconds with… Italia Connection’s David Vogel

Italia Connection Executive Vice President David Vogel on where’s hot for meetings and incentives in Italy, the most popular venues and his dream itinerary.

Which destinations in Italy are most popular for meetings and incentives?
For large meetings, we find it tends to be Rome, Milan or Turin because of the size of the meeting space available. But Sorrento and Venice and Florence are also popular for smaller meetings.

On the incentive side, we have seen a really high demand for the Amalfi Coast and Lake Como, and particularly our own secret itineraries product. We’re always looking to provide new venues and locations in well-known destinations, such as Florence, as well as secret tours such as our tour of the Baptistry, and roof-top tour of the Dome. We take small groups on individual and customised tours via secret stairways and passageways to get a different feeling for Florence.

What hotels would you recommend?
Castello di Casole near Siena is lovely relaxed resort and atmosphere in really beautiful surroundings. Groups can go to local market and buy fresh produce and have family style cooking class, or you can make excursions into truffle country, visit parmesan or ham factories, go on boutique wine tasting tours, and hiking and biking.

We were also very successful with Borgo Egnazia in Puglia last year. It’s a very popular and very different type of hotel that’s designed to be like a traditional Italian village (borgo), so accommodations are in village houses, and the market square becomes the place for entertainment in the evenings.

Are there any locations in Italy that you think will emerge as new MICE destinations in future?
Bologna is on the up, and Emilia-Romagna, the region north-east of Tuscany, which is beautiful with stunning nature, history and great gastronomy. It’s not quite there yet for larger groups but there are some good properties that would suit smaller incentive groups of 50-60 people and you can design some really intimate and personalised experiences

What’s the most exciting itinerary you are organising this year?
We have just organised an itinerary for a client who exclusively booked a Silversea boat to cruise the Italian coastline. We were in charge of the land programme, which included tours in Pisa, a secret itinerary in Florence, a market visit and cooking class, a visit to the lovely seaside town of Forte dei Marmi, and a winery tour and street food experience in Sicily. We tried to provide a range of small group experiences, for no more than 20 people per tour.

What would your personal dream Italian itinerary be?
I would like to explore more of the islands. Sardinia is very beautiful – I’d love to cruise the coastline between Sardinia and the mainland, doing some kind of sailing regatta type incentive, that would be something really special.

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