Q: Is L’Isolabella Travel & Leisure a Tour Operator?
A: L’Isolabella is an fully authorized Tour Operator, specialized in incoming and meeting, incentive and events. We have a full travel agency license n° 108/S11-TUR by Assessorato Turismo, Comunicazione e Trasporti of Regione Siciliana. We are MPI and SITE members and our managing director is currently Secretary general of SITE Italia Chapter.
Q: How do I convert the tour price to my own currency?
A: Our services are quoted in Euros. We recommend using this website http://www.xe.com to convert our quotes in Euros to your own currency
Q: Where can we Exchange our money?
A: Since there is relatively little opportunity to exchange money during the trip it is advisable to arrive with a supply of Euros to avoid any inconvenience. Most banks in your country are able to exchange your money before leaving for Sicily. In Sicily, money can be exchanged in Catania & Palermo airports and in the cities of Palermo, Catania, and Taormina. Ask your Tour Director or Hotel Desk for more information immediately upon arrival in Sicily. If you travel by your own, any big city in Sicily has banks where to exchange money and get some cash.
Q: Are there ATMs available?
A: ATM’s are available in all towns and cities usually next to every bank.
Note: While you may use your ATM card in Italy, you are allowed to withdraw only smaller amounts (usually about €200) because it is a foreign ATM card. So if you’re trying to withdraw your daily maximum and it is refusing your request, simply try withdrawing a smaller amount.
Q: Are credit cards easily accepted?
A: Yes, they are widely accepted everywhere. Some little shops or bars prefer payment in cash. Credit cards most widely accepted here are Visa and Mastercard. Some localities do not accept American Express or Diner. Cards such as Discover are not accepted anywhere.
Q: Are Travellers Cheques easily accepted?
A: No, they aren’t.
Q: Do I have to pay tips or gratuities?
A: Tips or gratuities are never included in our trips. If you are booking an Independent tour and you will use a driver-escort, please be so kind as to considerer tipping (out of appreciation) based on the efficiency and service you receive. Gratuities in restaurants are never included in the bill. The Cover charge is not a tip. If paying with credit cards in Italy, please pay your tip separately in cash to the waiter and this should be 10% of the total bill. You may tip taxi drivers about one euro, more if it was a longer trip.
Q: What kind of cloths should I bring?
A: Luggage are considered as per one piece per person so please, pack essentially for all tours. Women should avoid bare arms and shoulders in Churches (scarf or stole recommended). Dress for hot conditions although light rainwear and warm jacket for the evening when temperatures can drop (especially in November-April). Anyone intending to visit Etna or the Mountainous sides of Sicily should bring warm clothing and hiking boots or other sturdy shoes, as snow is a common occurance from December to April.
Q: Which kind of footwear do you recommend?
A: Comfortable walking shoes and sandals. Hiking boots if planning on doing any hiking/Mt. Etna.
Q: Do you recommend a sunhat and sunscreen?
A: Definitely yes, we do recommend sunhats/sunglasses/sunscreen during the peak season and especially in the summer months of June, July, August. We also strongly recommend bringing a two liter water bottle as well as insect repellant.
Q: How can I use my cell phone in Italy? Or how can I phone home?
A: To have your country cell phone operate in Italy, contact your local cell phone company. Phoning from a hotel room can be costly, as you will usually be charged for local calls as well as for long distance, even though you use a credit card or call “collect”.
To avoid extra charges, we suggest using a pay phone, phone card or mobile cellular phone. You can also purchase a local pay phone card while in Italy.
To make a call within Italy, dial the complete area and city code and then the phone number.
To make an international call from Italy, dial 00, and then the country code, followed by the area/city code & then the number. (For example, dialing the U.S. would be: 001 212-555-6666 ).
The area code for Italy is + 39.
Q: What do you recommend for my safety?
A: There is no special recommendation for Sicily, just use your common sense and act as when travelling wherever else in the world. Some good suggestions:
- Be careful with your purse and wallet. Pick-pocketing and purse-snatching can happen anywhere, especially in crowed places (markets, famous monuments, restaurants, bus stops (on buses), and railways stations (on trains).
- We advise you to not give money to beggars, as this is a common distraction for someone else to snatch your valuables.
- Do not carry all your money with you when leaving for sightseeing or strolls. Deposit part of your money in the hotel safe in your room or in a special belt around your waist.
- Have handy telephone numbers of your banks and credit card companies in the event of stolen or lost credit cards.
- Make two photocopies of important documents, such as your passport, tickets and vouchers. Keep one copy with you in a separate place and leave another copy with someone at home.
- Keep a photocopy of your Passport apart from your Passport (in your hotel safe, for example).
Q: At approximately what time can I check-in at the hotel ?
A: Your room will generally be ready and available to you at approximately 2PM. If you like, you can ask the hotel to hold your luggage until the time of check-in. Hotel check-out time is usually between 10AM and 12noon.
Q: What about shopping Information?
A: Shops are generally open from 09.00 to 1.00 PM and from 4.00 to 7.30/8.00 PM. They are generally closed from 1:00PM to 4:00PM during Sicilian lunchtime. There might be some open during lunch time in Catania and Palermo.
Do ask about a VAT (value-added tax) refund when you purchase more than 155 euros of goods in one store. If the store participates in the ‘Tax Free for Tourists,’ you can get the tax, called the IVA, refunded at the last European airport on your journey.
Keep your Currency Exchange forms if you plan to change money back to another currency.
Ask for a receipt of your bills from the shopping establishments. By Italian Law, you must obtain them before leaving the premises. Do keep track of your purchases, as Customs will ask you about them when you return to your country.
Q: Is it a problem to find snacks?
A: Sicily is the reign of snacks and street food. It’s easy to find snacks (gelato, sweets, panini) around town, usually in what Italians call the Bar. Snacks can also be found in Bakeries (Panificio) or grocery stores (Supermercato). We suggest to try what we call “tavola calda”: most of the bars offer it with a wide selection of specialties.
If you want to use restaurants, however, they are usually open from 12:30 PM until 2:30 PM and from 8:00 PM until 11:30 PM.
Q: What can I do for special allergy, vegetarian or religious requirements?
A: Please, advise us at the time of booking! This is the only way to avoid misunderstanding and mistakes for meal choices, that could be potentially dangerous or offensive. Sicilian cuisine requires many vegetable dishes, fried food, fish, meat, chicken and pork. We have a wide variety of cuisine and we are usually able to accommodate your special requests while still allowing you to enjoy traditional Sicilian foods. Italian Law states that we cannot share your personal information about such requests with anybody other than the restaurants with whom we are arranging meal services.
Q: What is the difference between lunch and light-lunch in Sicily?
A: In Sicily, eating is almost a religion itself so, don’t worry, light lunch doesn’t mean a small panino to get you through the day. A light lunch may refer to a buffet rustic ligh lunch with typical Sicilian specialties or to a 2 course meal with no beverages included while a regular lunch is a 3 course meal with no beverages included. You will never go hungry in Sicily!
Q: What type of properties do you usually use for your tours?
A: We clearly specify the properties used in each specific tour details that you can easily check. Properties used usually range from first class to boutique or luxury depending on the tour. Feel free to ask us a suggestion before starting the booking confirmation: asking us is the only way to adapt the properties/tours to your needs.
Q: What is included in the tour rate?
A: You will find more details regarding what is included and what is not included in “Price includes” per each tour. Refer to each tour details to have more specific information about what is included and is not in the price for each tour.
Please notice that personal expenses are not included. Additionally, we recommend planning some extra money to cover meals not included in the tour price, optional sightseeing, souvenirs, personal items, etc.
Q: What is the group size for each tour?
A: Our tours are usually small size with a maximum of 16/18 people signed on. Again, you will find this information inside the specific details for each tour.
Q: Are all the departures guaranteed?
A: Our tours are usually guaranteed with a specific, set minimum of people signed on. Guaranteed, for us, means that we must have a minimum of 4 people signed on.
Q: In your Escorted Tour, where we will meet the tour escort or director?
A: We provide this information when we issue the vouchers. We usually arrange the meeting point for the first day of tour in the hotel lobby at 7:30PM. This is also a nice way to meet the other people on the tour before the welcome dinner begins.
Q: If we decide require the airport arrival transfer service, where will we meet the driver?
A: Upon arrival in Sicily, you must proceed through passport control (if you arrive from an international flight) and collect your luggage inside the customs area. Outside of the custom area, you will find the driver waiting holding a sign with your name.
Q: Do you guarantee sea view rooms on your tours?
A: Usually not. You better check the “Price include” section for each tour to see what type of room is guaranteed. For most of our tours, this is an extra fee and we cannot guarantee it. If a sea view room is a must for you, please ask us about it at the time of booking. We will be happy to specify the supplement you have to pay to obtain this service.
Q: What about meals not included in the tour price? How can I plan them?
A: The tour escort will provide suggestions for the best restaurants or trattoria where you can enjoy your meals not included in the tour. In case you would like to organize the meals not included on your own…you can do so and the Tour Director will arrange the logistics for you.
Q: Will we have time for shopping during your tours?
A: It depends on the tour. Usually, we plan some free time at your disposal for shopping….but it depends on different factors like traffic and available time. If ‘shopping’ is a MUST for you, please be so kind as to ask us to suggest the best tour for you. We can also recommend booking pre- or post-nights to allow for shopping time.
Q: Do you organize a “seat rotation” for your tours?
A: No we don’t. And we don’t reserve the seats in advance.
Q: I need to have the first seat in the motor coach. Can I reserve it in advance?
A: No you can’t, but if this request is because you suffer from motion sickenss, feel free to explain your needs to the tour escort. He/she is here to help you.
Q: Can we use the toilet on the long distance coach?
A: No, our apologies. This is because in Sicily there are no waste recepticle sites, meaning even if only 2 people use the toilet, things will start to smell making your entire coach trip unpleasant! We understand that for this is a really important service and we do our best to allow for adequate bathroom breaks for long distance coach trips. We do this by stopping at highway rest areas to allow clients to use the toilets.
Q: Are your shore excursions private?
A: Yes, they are. Our Company only provides Private Shore Excursions. It means that your excursion with us is exclusive for you, your family, friends, or group.
Q: Why should we choose your excursions rather than the cruise excursion?
A: Because we are Sicilian and we know Sicily very well! We provide you a customized quality experience. Most excursions sold on cruise ships are big group sized and you are herded along with the rest of the group instead of really being able to enjoy the sights. Our tours are private and can all be customized. You will be able to decide where to spend your time sightseeing, shopping, or beach combing.
Q: Where will we meet your staff at the harbor?
A: Usually we arrange the meeting appointment at the Customs Hall.
This is the easiest way to find our staff (sometimes there are too many people at the port making it really difficult to find our staff even if they have the sign with the clients’ name). But, you will always find specific details in your voucher.
Q: If we are staying in a hotel, can we book one of your excursions?
A: Yes, of course you can book an excursion even if you are staying at hotel. At time of booking, please advise us of the hotel name so we can adapt the routing according to your needs. With no extra charge.
Q: If we are interested in your shore excursions, what do we have to do?
A: First, thank you for your interest!
-You must first verify which excursion you are interested in.
-You must verify docking information (estimated arrival & departure times)
-You must verify the correct docking port.
Then you are ready to book by emailing us with all information.
Q: Do Your Rates include the Car Hire?
A: Usually Yes, but please check what is specified in “Price includes”. Please, check carefully also what kind of insurance is inclusive in the package.
Q: Do We have to respect the itinerary suggested?
A: Absolutely not. As for Self Drive philosophy, you are free to decide what to see, what to do, what and where to eat. We only arrange the hotel overnights–and this is the only point you have to respect.
Q: Parking fees are included in the self drive package?
A: No, you have to pay this extra fee directly on the spot.
Q: Where can I purchase a map of Sicily?
A: You can ask the car hire company for a map or buy it in any of the major Sicilian shops or airports.
Q: What is the minimum age requirement for renting a car with your company?
A: You must be a minimum of 25 years old for all rental categories. This is not our policy, but rather the car hire company policy.
Q: What if we rent a car with your company and need an extension/upgrade on the spot?
A: As booking your self-drive package with us you pay a special rate, it is not convenient for you to make this request directly to the car hire company. If you ask for these changes on the spot, your payment will be subject to local rates and taxes. We strongly recommend planning your trip with us and asking for our recommendations on how many days to rent the car. This is for your convenience to help avoid charges on the spot.
Q: Do we have to bring a credit card with me even if I rent a car from your company?
A: Yes, this is a must. A credit card is required by the car hire company upon pick-up.
PRIVATE OR INDEPENDENT TOURS
Q: Is it possible to have a customized Itinerary?
A: Yes, of course! We can customize and modify your program as you like.