Ever wondered what it was like to stroll through the ornate gardens of Imperial Japan, or share a glass of wine with a count in his 15th century estate? Imagine being able to break bread in a 12th century Florentine courtyard, listening to assassination plots to bring down the Medici dynasty, or enjoy true southern hospitality in a mansion in the deep south during the early 1800s.
While distances grow ever smaller – as air travel has enabled us to cross the globe in mere hours and civilian space travel has gone from sci-fi fantasy to looming reality – time travel remains the true final frontier. Sure, history has been brought to life in the pages of books and on the screens of our televisions and in cinemas, but what if you could go beyond seeing? What if you could actually experience the past; taste it, smell it, feel it?
Well, now you can.
At Trafalgar, we are bringing the past back to the future through unique Be My Guest experiences that let you live the history of the destinations you visit. Journey back through time via the stories, settings and sensations you’ll share as you connect with not only the places, but the people who help keep this historical legacy alive.
Dine like royalty in Imperial Japan
Take a trip across oceans and through time to the verdant stillness of Mt. Yoshida in Kyoto, Japan. Walk through the opulent gardens of the beautiful ryokan, Yoshida Sansa, built for a Japanese prince whose uncle just happens to be Emperor Akihito. Your hosts Kyoko & Tomoko Nakamura will teach you about life in ancient Japan: its customs, its poetry and its exquisite culinary traditions. As you sit down to enjoy a traditional kaiseki lunch with its intricately plated delights – which are said to have inspired the Nouvelle Cuisine movement – you’ll get a one-of-a-kind taste of the daily life of Japan’s elite in centuries past.
Luxuriate in 15th century Tuscany in the home of a Count
Travel back six centuries to the rolling hills of Tuscany as your Be My Guest experience takes to you the 15th century olive oil estate of Count Miari Fulcis. Here you’ll learn the history of this aristocratic family, who were some of Tuscany’s brightest stars during the Italian Renaissance, while you tour their expansive home. Then, settle in for an aperitif and tasting of the estate’s finest olive oils. As the sun sets, you’ll enjoy a regional feast in a setting so timeless it served as the backdrop for the historical films Tea with Mussolini and A Room with a View.
Find yourself in the centre of a 12th century family feud
If these walls could talk, they’d have one heck of a story to tell. The lines between past and present are blurred at the Castello del Trebbio, the only castle in Italy still inhabited by a family all year long. Join the current owners’ cousin, Alberto Peroni, in this 12th century castle built by one of Italy’s most infamous families, the Pazzis. It was between these stoic walls that they plotted the assassination of the Medici family, rulers of Florence during the Renaissance period. A drama ripped from the annals of history, this story comes to life as you explore the salon, private bedrooms, wine cellar and even dungeon of this perfectly-preserved castle, the setting of one of Italy’s greatest conspiracies. You’re then whisked back to the present to enjoy a meal featuring local ingredients perfectly paired with a glass of wine produced in the basement below.
Dance to the sounds of accordions in a Croatia still untouched by civil war
From the second you arrive, greeted by three generations of the traditionally dressed Muhoberac family, you’ll find yourself immersed in the Croatia of long ago: a pre-war Croatia filled with music, laughter and soul-warming meals shared with family and friends. As you are welcomed into the place the family has called home for over 500 years, you’ll hear how the quant stone-walled village of Osojnik, destroyed by war, has been rebuilt into a thriving economy based on locally produced wines, olive oils, honey and meat. Prepare a traditional barbecued feast and indulge in traditional food cooked under a ‘pika bell’ – cooked in the only part of the house to survive the bombardments of war – the same way it has been prepared lovingly by the family for half a millennium. And become enveloped in the local spirit of resilience as the sound of accordions fills the air while the colourfully clad family dances to the rhythms their ancestors danced to on those very stone floors long ago.
Walk in the footsteps of a first century king
As soon as you step foot in the 18th century country estate of the Winn-Darley family, in Buttercrambe, York, it’s apparent that history stands still inside these beautifully adorned walls. The family welcomes you into their home, Aldby Park, with open arms as they treat you to its visual memoire during a tour of the house. However, it’s beyond the confines of the main building that the true magic of these grounds comes to life. While the whinny of the famous silky-maned Darley Arabian horses might vie for your attention, don’t forget to visit the two mounds and moat that mark the ancient site of King Edwin’s castle. It is rumoured that on the same ground trodden under your feet, in 626 AD, a failed assassination attempt prompted the King’s conversion to Christianity, which was then spread across his northern England empire.
Enjoy a feast for your senses in the ancient farmland of Norway
The smell of the moss-covered hills of Bergen, the rich reds and greens of the Øvre-Eide family’s traditional Norwegian attire, the wiry soft pelts of the farm’s resident sheep; these are the Scandinavian sensations left untouched by time. You’ll experience them and many more firsthand as you spend the afternoon with the Øvre-Eide family – who have worked this land for five generations – in their home that has been a working farm since the 1500s. Then, sit back and relax as the flavours of the Bergen countryside delight your palate during a homemade meal featuring local ingredients.
Defy the laws of space and time and journey to the past as history comes to life on our unique Be My Guest experiences, more than 100 across the world. Want to make time travel a part of your next holiday? Check out our trips.