Archive for November, 2009

Thinking of May

As Fall’s last colors’ fade, as the leaves fall more quickly, as leaden skies become more frequent there is a glimmer on the horizon. It is our May trips to Orvieto. Orvieto in May conjures up visions of bright red poppies dotting the landscape, yellow zucchini blossoms gracing vendor stalls at the market, multi-colored artichokes stacked high, emerging green in the fields, and warm, sunny skies. Just what the doctor ordered!!

And May also conjures up a handful of entertaining, educational, fun trips with some exceptional teachers. Or, if you just want to get intimate with the Italian way of life, our Discover Orvieto and Girlfriend Getaway trips. Here is what’s on tap.

Sil Scarves with Photos

Silk Scarves with Photos

Photography and Fabric. Mary Ellen Kranz will be marrying her skills with camera and computer with her love of quilting and fabric. Take pictures under her careful tutelage, enhance the picture on the computer and then print it out on a variety of fabrics to be incorporated into quilt, scarf, purse, book cover or other items that you love. May 9 – 15, 2010.

Cover & 2 Postcards

Mixed Media Fun. Ellen Kochansky leads you on scavenger hunts through Orvieto. While you are out and about, and while you are cooking, tasting wine, sampling olive oil, and exploring the Etruscan past you will have the opportunity to pick up a grand variety of local items. Ellen then guides you in displaying these items  between gossamer sheets of silk bound with a nontoxic homemade glue. The transparent “postcards” fold out accordion style from a cover you make, capturing memories of this special city. May 16 – 22.

Map of Orvieto

Leather-bound Mixed Media Journal. Harvard University faculty member Gina Foglia is leading a wonderful exploration of your senses and how you react through them to the environment around you. Gina will help you “map” your discoveries in a mixed media journal bound with leather from a local shop. May 16 – 22.

Poppies by Jane

Painting and Drawing. Walk the streets and alleys and green spaces of Orvieto with Jane LaFazio, who will teach the newbie to the experienced how to paint and draw the beauty of your exceptional spring Italian surroundings. You will create a series of 5 X 7 sketches and paintings housed in a cloth and paper portfolio of your own making. May 23 – 29.

Photo by Jan

Photography. Jan Phillips, author of Marry Your Muse and Creating Every Day will lead you into all the many scenic spaces of Orvieto to improve your photography skills. Whether experienced or completely new to photography, Jan will use her many years of photographic experience, her artful eye, and her sense of composition to help you improve your skills, all while capturing beautiful memories of this exceptional city. May 23 – 29.


Giovanni explains wine at Palazzone Vineyard

Culture, Food, Wine, History. People love Italy for its immense history, its exceptional food, its variety of wine, and a culture that is modern yet rooted in tradition. Spend a week experiencing intimately all the passion and joy Italians have to offer. Through Discover Orvieto, our cultural immersion adventure, enjoy the company and insights of the many Orvietani we have come to know as friends over the past eight years. May 9 – 15, May 16 – 22, and May 23 – 29.

A second Culture, Food, Wine, History trip is under development – the Girlfriend Getaway. Contact us for more information on this trip. May 9 – 15.

Join us in Orvieto!

Read Full Post »

I was introduced by one of our teachers, Ellen Kochansky, to a book on Italy called The Dark Heart of Italy, written by Tobias Jones. Jones, from Britain, lived in Italy for four years recounting his experience in the book. I have yet to talk to my Italian friends to see how accurate they think it is. The book caused a stir in Italy, but he says most Italians told him they felt it was an honest portrayal.

I’m not very far along in the book and I would say it is a mix of praise and critique. A recent passage made me laugh because it is just so atypical of how an American would behave – and it is this kind of contrast that makes travel to Italy so fun. Jones was talking about the bureaucracy, how awful it is, how so many simply ignore the rules because they are never enforced. As a consequence, in life generally, what we would see as obligatory, Italians view with much more flexibility, as suggestions rather than something to be slavishly obeyed. He describes the upshot this way:

“The advantage, I realized, was that life in Italy is simply more enjoyable. The longer I stayed, the more obvious it became that life was not lazy, just more leisurely. I noticed during the skiing season that my favorite barman had left a note outside his bar, handwritten on cardboard: ‘Closed because of illness. I’ve gone to recuperate in the Dolomites. I will be better on Monday 18.’ “

Imagine that here! It would never happen. We are too serious and rule bound. (Let me also say, in defense of Italians, we have never, ever been let down by any of the people we work with. They always deliver on what they promise.) So I’d agree with Jones that life is more pleasant in Italy, in part, because they are more relaxed, do embrace life in a wonderful way.

The embracing of life is one of the reasons those who travel with us love Italy so much. We aren’t going to change in the US, but maybe we could relax just a tad more!!

Read Full Post »

LogoWoutMember75x106We are founding members of a group called Slow Travel Tours. This is a group of tour operators who believe in traveling in such a way that those who travel with us have a rich, cultural experience that you rarely find with others. We believe in:

  • Managing and leading trips ourselves so that our travelers benefit from the years of experience and connections only we can provide.
  • Having lots of great local connections, enabling us to put our travelers in touch with the local community that is impossible to do as an individual traveler or in typical large groups tours.
  • Small groups because it provides an intimate experience, is personal, and more fun.
  • Having personal experience in the places we operate so we can bring their unique qualities to light.
  • Staying in one place longer – most of us stay for a week – because it is only by slowing down that we begin to see, experience, and appreciate the nuance of places that make them interesting, fun, and informative. Ironically, we see more by seeing less.
  • A passion for a deeper, richer cultural experience.
  • Having a track record of leading trips so that anyone signing up for a Slow Travel Tour will be assured of an exceptional trip.



Slow Travel is about making friends with the natives

Slow Travel Tours has been in existence for about a year and a half. We have been communicating by e-mail and through a group forum during this time. We wanted to get together face-to-face to fine tune who we are and to build the kinds of relationships you can only do in person – not unlike the relationships we all build on our trips.


I am so glad we did, because it is an exceptionally talented, dedicated, knowledgeable, fun group. We met at Barb and Matt Daub’s wonderful house snuggled into a hillside sitting above Maiden Creek in rural Pennsylvania. Their house is built around a 1700’s era log cabin – an absolutely inspired place. Barb has created the surrounding gardens and Matt, who teaches painting, has his studio there, full of the most beautiful works.


Slow Travel helps us touch other cultures


We began the work of establishing standards and expectations for the group. We have had many requests by other tour operators to join us. We want to add more, but we needed to define what kind of trip people would have, ensure they lead the same kinds of fantastic trips the rest of us do. We will add members who broaden our geographic reach, who provide trips similar to ours but with different emphases, who can contribute to the collective expertise we have.

We are going to better develop our web site so it is a useful resource for people traveling with the same passion and philosophy we have. And we are going to promote the benefits of the kind of travel we all believe in. “Slow” travel isn’t for everyone. But, for those wanting to connect and get to know people in a place, it is so rewarding.

Kristi and I want you to travel with us, but we aren’t right for everyone either. We know that traveling with any of our Slow Travel Tour members will provide you an absolutely wonderful trip! After our first meeting, we know that any members we add in the future will do the same.

Read Full Post »