Olive Garden Offering Actual Trip To Italy Alongside This Year’s Pasta Pass

Image courtesy of Krista

Attention, fans of carbohydrates! It’s time to warm up your online purchasing fingers. The Neverending Pasta Pass goes back on sale at Olive Garden today, but there’s a new twist this year: 50 passes will be available that entitle the bearer to neverending pasta for eight weeks, and a weeklong trip to Italy. Update: And they’re gone: 22,000 passes and the 50 Passports that come with the free trip sold out in one second.

This is more of a sweepstakes than a travel deal, since the version of the Pass that comes with eight weeks of pasta, soft drinks, sides, and an all-expenses-paid trip to Italy costs $200, while the regular version that just has the pasta costs $100. You can try to buy both for half an hour beginning at 2 P.M. Eastern time today at PastaPass.com.

The normal version, as longtime Consumerist readers and fans of food-related publicity stunts know, is a card that entitles the bearer to as many lunch and dinner visits to Olive Garden for unlimited plates of pasta as they can stand during a two-month period.

Last year, the company put 21,000 of the passes up for sale, and told Consumerist that the passes “were claimed immediately.” This year, the company will sell 22,000 regular passes and 50 of the vacation version.

The trip is for two people, and has stops in Siena, Florence, Assisi, Rome, Vatican City, and the Leaning Tower of Pisa. The announcement doesn’t mention whether the guests will get to visit Olive Garden’s cooking school in Tuscany, which actually exists.

Brand Ambassadors

The Pass isn’t just a quick publicity stunt: It’s about people who genuinely like Olive Garden’s food serving as “brand ambassadors” and bringing their friends and family to dine with them. Those friends and family pay full price for their meals, of course. Pass holders visited the restaurant an average of 28 times over the eight weeks of the promotion.

Olive Garden sent along this useful chart to help you decide which pasta pass is right for you, if you do get the opportunity to buy a pass.

If you do have luck buying your own pass, with or without a vacation included, let us know how the sale went!