Italy's Orange Flag Program

| Sun, 03/02/2014 - 02:30

Holidays can be expensive things, with day trips and tours to pay for, and when you’ve only a limited time, nobody likes to be disappointed when a trip you’ve looked forward to fails to deliver.

There are many ways now to check out what local attractions are near your chosen Italian holiday destination. Obviously, you can look for ideas on ITALY Magazine browsing through our main sections, Travel, Culture, Life & Style, Food & Wine, or regional pages, or using our search tool.

We all know about Trip Advisor and other review sites, and while these are often a good place to start your research, they do depend heavily upon the general public writing their reviews, which at times may not be objective.

If you enjoy visiting interesting towns and villages then guidebooks can be helpful, however, unless you have the most recently published version, some of the information can be out of date. But don’t despair: Italy’s Orange Flag Program means that there is a way that you can get up to date, accurate information.

Founded by Touring Club Italiano, the Orange Flag is a seal of excellence awarded to towns and villages that not only have an historical, cultural and environmental heritage of merit, but are also renowned for offering tourists a quality welcome.

Evaluated from the traveler's point of view, the seal is not permanent and to satisfy Touring Club’s specific criteria each town and village is audited every three years to ensure that their high standards are still adhered to and that their information is up to date.

Created in 1998 at Sassello, in Liguria, the Touring Club has considered applications from over 2000 towns and villages throughout Italy, awarding only the most deserving their coveted Orange Flag.

The selection process is the same for every town and begins with the welcome that tourists will receive: everything is considered including signposting, tourist information services, transport links including traffic management and even the town’s website. The second part of the process looks at the accommodation choices available to the traveller, including restaurants and bars.

Potential tourist attraction is also considered, these include not only the historical and cultural but also the environmental and social potential the town has to offer. As part of this evaluation, the Touring Club considers each town’s environmental management, scrutinising everything from waste management to public parks and even renewable resources and energy conservation.

Finally, the structure and quality of the town is considered, along with the atmosphere and hospitality on offer to tourists. This part of the process is decisive for determining the visitor experience and therefore creating a positive image of the town.

Once all the information has been gathered and a decision has been made, towns that receive the Orange Flag seal are expected to continue meeting the high standards required to guarantee tourists experience quality, whilst also discovering new places of culture and traditions off the beaten track.