As I look back on 2016, I feel blessed and thankful for so many reasons. First, and most important, I am thankful to have my health, as I realize that others battle with physical and mental health challenges daily. I am grateful for my wonderful family, amazing friends, and the opportunity to live my life to the fullest.
I particularly would like to mention a few friends who have made my travels in Italy very special. Each of them works hard to share their talents and love for Bella Italia in their various businesses. This list just barely scrapes the surface of all who have impacted my life and my Italy experiences.
If you are even considering travel to Italy in 2017, I highly recommend all of these.
In no particular order…
A few months ago I had the opportunity to relax on a 42-foot sailboat and enjoy the scenic coast of Taormina, thanks to the generosity of Simona Ferro from Tripping Sicily.
Simona’s company provides personal custom luxurious cruises on yachts and sailboats, Jeep expeditions to Etna, wine tastings and cooking classes, and much more.
On one of the last days of my month-long trip to Italy, this day was one of the highlights of my trip. Victoria De Maio and I were ready for some R&R after driving through Sicily on a fun whirlwind 10-day road trip. I made several new friends this day, since Sarah Kearney from White Almond – Private Sicily arranged a car and very attractive driver to “collect” us (as Sarah says – she’s British) at our hotel in Taormina and whisk us off to the nearby port of Giardini-Naxos. Sarah rode along too. It was after reading her blog about an excursion with Tripping Sicily that prompted my dream to see Taormina from the vantage point of the Ionian Sea.
Once on the sailboat, I also met Adriana Bosurgi from Kimi Sicilian Gourmet. Little did I know that she would treat us to her very own specialty “Sicilian comfort food in a jar.” Along with some delicious prosecco, we enjoyed a variety of these delights like pate di caponata, pistacchio, and sundried tomatao served on bread, bruschetta! Absolutely delicious!
The next day, Simona picked us up and drove us to Villa Britannia, a boutique, historic, restored B&B, where we met the owners, Louisa Vittorio and her partner Marco. Here we had more food of course and toured the lovely property where Louisa hosts cooking classes and wine tastings.
In Venice, I had the opportunity to meet Monica Cesarato from Monicacesarato.com, and learned a lot about the Venetian tradition and food, cicchetti.
When in Venice, eat like the locals, and Monica is a local. She is a food blogger, a culinary guide, and a cooking instructor, and has even been featured on TV shows!
As many of you know from reading my blog, I have recently traveled with my good friend, Victoria De Maio, from PostcardZ from Victoria as part of #2SicilianGals. I also traveled to Puglia with Victoria on one of her small group tours, which more than matched my expectations. You can read about my experience here, and I highly recommend checking out her 2017 itineraries to Puglia and Liguria.
A few months ago I had the pleasure of meeting Terri Affanato, owner of Italian Decorative Art by Affanato & Co. in Vietri sul Mare. I had ordered some hand-made ceramic plates this past year, and thanks to Terri, I was actually able to enjoy a personal tour of the artisans’ studios in Vietri, where I met Anna Rita, the artist who painted my plates!
Nothing can compare to a personal experience where you meet the locals and I remember that day fondly. Look for a blog post soon.
Of course you know I spent two glorious peaceful weeks in October in Positano on the Amalfi Coast at Hotel Pupetto, where I enjoyed the serene surroundings to write and finish the first draft of my novel.
This family-run 33-room hotel was perfect for me and the view of the sea from my balcony was priceless. For more about my experience there, check out my blog post. Aside from some Wi-Fi issues, I recommend this pleasant accommodation in one of the most beautiful places on earth.
Another place I will always remember because of the friendliness and warmth of its owners is Hotel Villa Schuler in Taormina.
Mr and Mrs Schuler took time out to share their thoughts about Taormina with us while were their guests for three days and nights. The special attention made me feel like a VIP and the view from our balcony was breathtaking.
My special friend Marco Jovon from Eredi Jovon in Venice is truly one of a kind. He learned his talent as a jeweler from his father and grandfather and he creates personal tailor-made cameos by hand.
Please stop by his shop in Venice on the Rialto Bridge or check out his website before you go to Italy. You won’t be disappointed. Read more about my experience meeting Marco from my blog post.
And I must mention the family-run luxury hotel company, Baglioni Hotels. Most of you know that I manage the social media for the hotel, and I have had the honor of staying at two of their hotels in Italy.
They truly do treat every guest as a VIP and make sure you have an unforgettable stay.
They have a promotion right now that is a great deal. For a limited time, until January 6, 2017, you can purchase three of their il Regalo Baglioni options for 50% discount. And the good thing is that the voucher is good for a year. Check it out here.
Another huge thank you to all of you who have been such a source of support throughout the year by reading, commenting, and following my blog, purchasing, reading, and reviewing my books, and liking and sharing my posts and photos on social media.
You are the best and I am forever grateful! Baci e abbracci!
Happy New Year! Felice anno nuovo!