Italy attracts all kinds of travelers. Those who visit on a fixed budget. Those who vacation and spare no expense. And those who fall somewhere in the middle.
Imagine if you will that you have unlimited funds and you could do and buy whatever you want in Tuscany. Sounds like a dream, right? As you are about to hear in this edition of the Total Tuscany Podcast, dreams do come true!
Villas are once again in high demand and if you want one you are going to have to wait. 2023 is the earliest you can grab one and those are filling up fast!
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Italy can be therapeutic. People from all walks of life flock to Italy for all sorts of reasons. We've never met a person who left the country and didn't say to themselves, wow! That's the way life should be.
Andrew Cotto recently returned from Italy, where he was on a three-week "work" trip drumming up stories. Andrew is a fantastic journalist; one of his stories from this trip will be coming out in Italy Magazine. He will be pitching several more articles to other travel sites and publications.
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We can spend hours looking at the old men in this photo. Their facial expressions. Their hand gestures. Their clothes. Their shoes. Every part of them tells a story. If you stare at it long enough, you can write unique fictional attributes of each one of them. If you come back the next day and look at the photo again, the stories for each of them change.
We took the photo in San Gimignano in 2009. It hangs on our office walls as not just a reminder of our first trip to Italy but to let us know there are grace and wisdom in aging.
San Gimignano tells a story that dates back to the Etruscans three centuries before Christ. A shining city on a hill marked by its 14- towers, San Gimignano is a must stop for any tourist. 4-million people a year visit this mid-evil town in North Central Tuscany. Normally packed with people, beauty is found in the hustle and bustle of buses, walking tours, and onlookers.
Like most places in Itlay, specifically Tuscany, the worldwide pandemic of COVID-19 has taken its toll on the economy. But as you find out in this latest podcast. The people of San Gimignano are not sitting back and just crossing their fingers and hoping people return. They are using this time to rediscover themselves. Soul searching, should we say, to connect with its past so when the people do return, they get the authentic experience they want and deserve.
Just like the old men in the photo, the days go by, but the stories we share and pass down over time can live forever. Next time you visit Tuscany, make sure you make a story of your own in San Gimignano.
Esperienza personale.Translated to English, personal experience. Urbano Brini is on a mission. He wants everyone who visits Florence and Tuscany to have a once in a lifetime adventure.
Several years ago, he started Florencetown Tours. What began as a simple self-guided bike ride around the city, has grown into something much bigger. Something more unique. Something more personal.
Last December, I visited Urbano in his office, located a stone's throw from the Arno River. The view alone must provide Urbano with some of his most creative ideas. He is laser-focused on customer service and has a keen understanding of what savvy tourists desire. Urbano will be the first to tell you what visitors want changes over time.
Take Florencetown, for instance. Many of the company's offerings are group outings. Several people, many who you don't know, take a tour to see David, ride Vespas, or retrace the footsteps of the Medici family. Typical things a lot of us do when vacationing to Tuscany, but leaves us feeling more like a tourist rather than having the authentic experience we yearn for when visiting Italy.
Urbano and his team noticed this and wanted to offer their clients something more. They didn't need to reinvent the wheel; they just needed to look at the way people want to experience Florence and Tuscany differently. By differently, we mean privately, uniquely, and off the beaten path. Something that when you tell your friends what you did on your trip, they say, wow! How in the world did you get to do that?
Urbano makes dreams come true. It shouldn't be that much as a surprise, as you will find out by listening to this podcast, Urbano is one of the biggest dreamers of them all. We are lucky that he wants to share them with the world.
More Florencetown Priviate Offerings
Hosting a podcast explicitly dedicated to Tuscany has many advantages. The one we like the most is the network of friends that we have made over these 59-episodes. We hope that when you listen to every episode that you feel you have created a bond of some sorts with our guests as well.
We have discovered that not one size fits all when it comes to travel. Some of you like to do your planning. Some of you are not that detailed and want everything mapped out down to the smallest detail. This service is where Italy Customized comes in and is here to help.
Linda has lived in Florence for the past 18-years; she has dual citizenship, Australian and Italian. Her credentials described on the Italy Customized website tell you she had cut her teeth in the travel and tourism industry.
Our interview covers a lot, like the strangest request Linda has gotten when putting a tour together. She also reveals her hidden gems. Those places off the beaten path that tend to go unnoticed by tourists because they are on the road(s) less traveled.
Linda is part of our network of friends. We share a common passion, a love for Italy and the desire to tell stories or create an experience that inspires you to travel, experience a different culture, and take in a part of the word that still seems it like it was centuries ago.
We would love to hear your stories! Email us your pictures, and where you are at and with your permission, we will share them on our social media channels. The more we share, the more we inspire. The more we inspire, the more we live!
When you first sit down to start planning a trip to Italy, the experience can be a bit overwhelming. Where do we go? How long do we stay? How in the world are we going to see everything we want to see in such a short amount of time? Take a deep breath! We have been preaching on this podcast for the last three years that once you visit Italy, you keep going back and eventually you will see and experience everything you want to see.
Travelers are not created equal. Some of you like to travel in groups, getting to know different people, and maybe have most or all of the planning taken care of ahead of time. If you fall into that category, we would love to have you join us in October on our Total Tuscany Experience.
However, you might be a traveler who likes a more personalized experience for you and a partner and family members. This is when you contact today's guest on the Total Tuscany Podcast. Annie Ojile is the co-founder of Personalized Italy, an exclusive tour company that features tastefully designed custom experiences throughout Italy.
Annie is a native of Minnesota but now calls Rome home and the place she plans on living forever. Personalized Italy started out organically with Annie helping friends and family plan their trip to Rome and give them tours of the city. Before she knew it, she was helping friends of friends, and friends of those friends. Boom! A business was born, and it has been thriving ever since.
Personalized Italy combines American sensibility with Italian flair. Annie and her team conceive and deliver memorable, one-of-a-kind experiences that place your hand on the pulse of Italy. Whether you are visiting for the first time or planning a sequel to your holiday, you can reach out to Personalized Italy for original ideas for your itinerary.
You might be thinking that Annie only provides tours in experience in and around Rome. This is not the case! Personalized Italy can take you wherever you want to go and give you an exclusive experience that you will never forget.
Enjoy our conversation with Annie and start planning your next personalized vacation today!
In this latest conversation with Mario we discuss the following:
It's human nature to ask ourselves questions like; what am I doing with my life? Am I where I need to be? Is there something I should be doing differently for me that in return will serve others? The introspective thought is healthy and in many cases, people find the answers they are looking for, all it takes is a leap of faith and taking action that sets change in motion.
Rewind to 2012 and picture a 56-year old woman standing outside coffee shop in Rome. She is on the last day of her vacation and realizes that she doesn't want to go home. Sure, all of us have had that feeling at one time or another, but we pass the emotion off as a pipe dream and return to our daily grind of what we call "normal" life. Lisa Condie was fed up with "normal" and after taking a deep breath, she decided that Italy was going to be her new "norm" and start a life many of us dream about, but we rarely try and make it come true.
Lisa has helped hundreds of women find themselves. She also shares her stories on the Huffington Post and Tut, and she's even been featured on the Today Show. Her change has happened so fast she is chronicling her story in a book titled "I Found Myself In Tuscany." How fitting, right?
Be inspired, listen to the podcast and discover the power of making a decision and following through with the action.
We would like to hear your thoughts on this podcast; please leave your comments, thoughts, or questions in the box below. If the moment moves you, please share this link with others you know will be inspired by the story. Go find yourself! If it's in Tuscany, even better!
Find yourself tour photos
When it comes to tourism in Tuscany, Querceto Di Castellina has what I call the holy trinity for visitors.
If you are a regular listener to the Total Tuscany Podcast, you know that we've talked about Querceto before, way back on Episode #3 with Jacopo di Battista. While traveling to the United States to promote the wines of Querceto, Jacopo met the love this life, Mary Shea. Having done consulting work in the food and wine industry, Mary knew a good wine when she tasted it. However, we aren't quite sure if that was prerequisite to getting the first date but I'm sure it didn't hurt.
After a long distance courtship, Mary has moved to Tuscany to be the Marketing Director for Querceto. She manages the brand from a social and visual aspect, but Mary also makes sure the hospitality and service you get when visiting Querceto are second to none. It's no secret that tourism in Tuscany is very competitive and visitors looking for a unique and memorable experience.
Querceto is a family owned Agriturismo and the wines produced on the estate are certified organic. Currently, there are five different vintages produced at the farm that dates back to the 14th century.
The estate also produces olive oil and Grappa di Chianti Classico
affinata in Barriques.
Travis Justice & Pat Campagna have been traveling to Tuscany since 2009. They produce the Total Tuscany Podcast and all the content on this website.