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active 7 hours ago

Mario Fortini

I am 42, born and bred in Rome and I love to travel; during my life I've had the chance to travel extensively around the world and came to the conclusion that Italy is a unique place, with endless attractive destinations; I live between Rome (my head office) and Cambridge (UK) where I have a company branch and when I don't work, I love to travel (!), playing football and everything food related!

What places and activities do you specialize in?

"Everywhere in Italy, in terms of location, I have in-depth knowledge of each of the 20 regions and I can offer assistance with the most diverse activity requests; My philosophy is to take the stress out of traveling. My work has taken me all around the world to countries where I don’t know the language or how the simplest things are done, like buying a bus or train ticket. Therefore, I bring every element of your trip into my direct responsibility - from flights to private taxis, to high-speed trains, to private tours, to the water taxis of Venice, and all types of accommodation in between. We can also include restaurant bookings as part of the itinerary and as a food-lover, I’m eager to share my own personal favorites. Every minute should feel like you are on the vacation of a lifetime, and we are at the end of the phone throughout the trip if there is anything you need to discuss. "

How did you get involved in travel?

"I started my own travel agency 8 years ago. I grew up in Rome and then worked in both tourism and international travel throughout my career. Despite Italy being one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world, I genuinely believed that there was a lack of opportunity for travelers to truly experience its beauty, culture and Italian passion. I felt that too many people were experiencing vacations that are impersonal and mass-produced causing people to miss out on the stunning jewels that fill every region.
It was with this in my mind that I created Bellarome, and as we have grown it has proven to me that my intuition was right. Referrals by friends and family and repeat customers make up over 15% of our clients each year, which we feel is a great testimony for a young company that continues to grow. I created a team of specialists, including tour guides in each region, and each one of us enjoys sharing our knowledge to help our clients divert away from the well-trodden tourist routes to discover the hidden gems of our cities and countryside.

Italy genuinely has too much to discover in one lifetime. Even for focused trips to one or two of the most beautiful cities, 99% of the wonders of that city or region will go unseen. Even as a Roman, I continue to discover new treasures – a sculpture in a church or a family-run taverna, or even an entire museum.

It is for this reason that I work with clients to understand what their true passions are and tailor every element of the vacation to meet this. This includes listening to what pace they wish to take their trip and understanding the interests of each member of the party - whether it’s a couple, a family, or a group of friends.

This approach has led to unique requests and working in partnership with our clients has helped us to better shape what we can offer to others. I enjoy the challenge of making someone’s dream come true."

Please share a unique travel experience you will never forget.

"For those passionate about nature and food, we have arranged truffle hunting with Massimo and his dog in Tuscany, or fishing trips from the small Sicilian island of Favignana. These aren’t commercialized trips for hundreds of tourists, but real experiences joining skilled experts as they share their livelihood and craft.

These are also my own personal favorite vacation experiences as there is no better way to understand the natural beauty and see how Italian culture, people, and food have evolved with such variety and diversity across the regions. For those who love history, archaeology, art, and architecture (whether you are an expert or someone who simply enjoy seeing and learning), we work to understand your specific interests then build the itinerary to meet this. More than once I have been strolling through Rome with my tour director (acclaimed as the best tour guide in Rome) and he will point out an ancient Roman site that has only just been discovered. These are yet to be added to the places of interest where millions of tourists will visit in the future. Visiting Palermo, I’ve been blown away by the melting pot of cultures that have come together on this island - and the unique influence on the architecture, the food, the language and most of all the people. For me, the most satisfaction comes where we know we have created the memory of a lifetime.

Each year we will help a hundred newly-weds create their own unique experience as their first vacation as a married couple. We have arranged for more than a few couples to stay in an 1100-year-old Tuscan Castle surrounded by olive trees, overlooking Sienna. This still ranks as one of the most special places I’ve stayed myself while touring some of the smaller cities of Tuscany. We have also helped people discover the regions and heritage of their ancestors, sometimes meeting relatives for the first time as part of their trip. We work hard to ensure that off the beaten track you will still discover the beauties of a region, usually only known to the locals."

Featured trips & expertise

The ruins of Taormina at sunset
Road Trip Around the Scenic Sicilian Coast - 15 Days

An island as beautiful and historically rich as Sicily deserves to be experienced at a leisurely pace. This 15-day itinerary features beaches and cathedrals, fishing villages and urban markets, a volcano and ancient archeological sites. Take your time as you circumnavigate this stunning region of Italy.

The salt pans of Trapani at sunset
Sicily in 3 days: 2 Short Coastal Tour Options

With three days you can encounter a slice of Sicily and its wonderful coastlines, culture and ancient ruins. We have brought together two itineraries that show off these highlights and more. One trip starts from the bustling city of Palermo and continues to the scenic wineries of western Sicily. The other takes you to the younger Catania, located in the shadow of Mt. Etna and close to quaint seaside resorts. Both itineraries will introduce you to Sicily's culture of wine, food and music that together create an unforgettable experience.

The ruins of Taormina theater at sunset
How many days do you need in Sicily?

Sicily can be experienced in as little as 3 to 5 days if you are short on time and interested in a quick coastal retreat. However, it’s much better to spend at least a week discovering this Mediterranean paradise. If you have 7 days you can explore a meaningful section of the island. Lucky travelers who have 14 days for their trip to Sicily can comfortably drive around Italy's entire coastline, experiencing the island's colorful clash of amazing flavors, ancient ruins, medieval villages, beaches and volcanoes.

Spectacular Self-Drive Tour Around Sicily - 14-Day Itinerary

Experience Sicily in all its glory by driving around the island in 2 weeks. Highlights of this tour include Palermo, a cultural melting pot with its stunning monuments and vibrant local markets; Taormina, the elegant village famous for its Greek theater and the postcard views of Mount Etna; The continuous activity of the volcano Stromboli and its breathtaking coastal scenery; Syracuse and Agrigento with their archaeological masterpieces and Mt Etna: Europe's highest active volcano.