Episode 57: Finding The Perfect Place To Stay

July 29, 2018

Of all the things that can make or break your holiday in Tuscany, or anywhere for that matter it is where you rest your head every night. There are a million stories on the internet of people finding a great deal online and then show up after already paying money in advance only to realize they got ripped off or sold something that didn't resemble the pictures on the online.

In the latest edition of the Total Tuscany Podcast, we welcome back one of our most trusted partners who we have been working with for almost ten years now. Mario Scalzi from Parker Villas. Mario has been a guest on the podcast several times before and offers a wealth of knowledge on the latest trends in traveling not just to Tuscany but all of Italy.

You might be thinking is a villa right for me? Mario is open and honest about what makes sense and what doesn't. The sweet spot for Parker Villas is groups of 8 to 12 and even higher. So if you are traveling with just you and a couple of friends, a hotel or hostel might be the road you want to go down. Airbnb and VRBO are also options but again you have to be careful about what you are paying for and what your expectations are.

What makes Parker Villas unique and a company you can trust is that all their properties are exclusive. This means the property you are paying or is not getting brokered like a commodity all over the internet. Mario or members of his staff personally inspect all the properties throughout the year. Parker Villas also has staff in Italy just in case you run into any problems and need help.

What makes Parker Villas stand out the most to us is the level of customer service. Every time we have rented from them we felt like they truly had a vested interest in our entire trip. For many of you going to Tuscany and Italy is once in a lifetime so you want to make sure you have a "friend" by your side.

All of the properties that Parker Villas rents combines Italian charm and history with American amenities. Such as air conditioning, an equal number of bathrooms to bedrooms, and more little things we have come to expect when traveling.

You will find this podcast informative, entertaining, and enlightening. Are you ready to take that trip to Tuscany? Join this fall on our next Total Tuscany Experience. Or if you already have a trip planned but need help with your itinerary and finding things off the beaten path we are here to help on a consulting basis. Just email us at info@totaltuscany.com to get started.

 

 

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Episode 56: Dinner In The Vineyard, A Chianti Experience

July 7, 2018

Tucked away in the hills outside of Castellina in Chianti is one of our favorite places to visit when we are in Tuscany. It's a family run estate called Querceto di Castellina. Our love affair with the estate started when we stayed on the property in 2011, and it is one of the stops on the Total Tuscany Experience.

The buildings on the property date back centuries. The winery has been sustainable since 1998, and it has been certified organic since 2012. In our book, Querceto di Castellina is certified awesome! Not only does it produce amazing, the Matriarch of the family, Laura cooks incredible Tuscan dishes that are just to die for.

Mary Shea, the Marketing Director at Querceto di Castellina, is always looking for new ways for visitors to enjoy the estate and the Tuscan countryside. A couple of years ago a corporate client asked if they could have a large dinner in the vineyard. It had never been done at the property before, Mary and her team pulled it off without a hitch. That experience got Mary thinking, why not make it a regular affair so more people can enjoy the experience.

If you can't make it to one of the vineyard dinners, there is no need to worry. Querceto di Castellina has so much to offer, there really is a picture to take in every direction you look. There are also plenty of spaces to sit back, relax, and take in the Tuscan countryside.
From wine tastings, lunch, cooking classes, and apartments that sleep anywhere from 1 to 10; Querceto di Castellina really is the epitome of Tuscan authenticity and hospitality.

Are you ready to visit? Your trip is already planned, join us on the Total Tuscany Experience September 29-October 6, 2018. Planning on going to Tuscany but don't know where to start? We can help! Email us at info@totaltuscany.com and we will work one-on-one with you to help plan and coordinate the perfect trip.

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Episode 55: Pat’s Five Favorite Things About Tuscany

June 24, 2018

If you are a regular listener to the total Tuscany Podcast, you know that Pat Campagna has a great passion for the region. If you are not a regular listener well, then you will hear Pat's enthusiasm as he details his five favorite things about Tuscany.

Visiting Tuscany, or Italy for that matter is not about travel and tourism, it's about the experience. You can travel anywhere, but it's what you do, what you see, what you taste and smell once you get there that makes the memories last a lifetime. Food, wine, people, landscapes, art, it all comes together to what we think is euphoria.

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Episode 54: Personalized Italy

April 1, 2017

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!

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Episode 53: Come To Tuscany With Us!

February 26, 2017

You have thought about it time and time again. Going to Tuscany has been on your bucket list for some time, but you keep telling yourself it will happen next year. When you look back, has next year turned into five years, or ten years?

No more excuses! Why? Well, the easy part is making the decision to go. The hard part is doing all the planning and the stress of making sure you get to see what you want to see and still have enough to relax and enjoy the Tuscan countryside. You take care of the easy part, decide right now that you are going to go to Tuscany. We have taken care of the hardest; The planning, the food, the tours, the villa.

Join us October 7-14 for the Total Tuscany Experience. You've listened to our podcasts, you have watched our videos, and you have read our blog posts. We are sure you have thought that it sounded like a dream, well we are here to tell you that dreams do come true!

Our Total Tuscany Experience has room for up to 8-people and comes with all the luxuries you would expect when you travel to Italy.

-Private villa on a countryside estate
-Cooking Classes
-Wine Tastings and Vineyard Tours
-Private Chauffeur driving a 1st class Mercedes Passenger Van
-Florence
-Siena
-The Val d'Orcia
-Historical Religious Sites and Churches
-Food! Lots and lots of food!

This once in a lifetime Total Tuscany Experience is reasonably priced at $3,495 per person based on double occupancy. The gathering is small and intimate as there is room for a total of 8 people which makes it ideal for a group of friends who have been looking to get away and experience the world!

October is a great time to visit Tuscany. The days are warm; the nights are cool. The grape harvest is wrapping up, and the olive harvest is just beginning. Do you like truffles and mushrooms? October is the perfect time flavors that make Tuscan cuisine amazing.

Make the decision today! Then contact us directly to reserve your spot on this once in a lifetime Total Tuscany Experience. We are looking forward to spending the week with you!

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Episode 52: Lisa Condie/I Found Myself

January 22, 2017

"When you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change."

Looking back, that quote from Wayne Dyer had significant meaning for Lisa Condie. Lisa has been a guest on this podcast before, talking about her tour company, Find Yourself in Tuscany. She's a model for greatness and inspiration for women everywhere. Successful and living abroad in one of the world's most beautiful cities, Lisa is a contributor to the Huffington Post, TUT, and she's been featured on the Today Show.

Lisa is in control and maybe the happiest she has ever been in her life.

I have some news for you, like almost every real success story, the journey along the way is filled with pain, disappointment, regret, even suffering.

In her book, I Found Myself in Tuscany, Lisa describes in great detail her first three years in Tuscany. She describes her journey of becoming an ex-pat much like a love affair; infatuation, doubt, and finally total acceptance.

But why in the world would a beautiful mother of two, successful business owner from Salt Lake City, Utah end up in Florence, Italy in the first place?

That answer is how Lisa found herself in Tuscany. She is incredibly open and honest in our interview. Her story is one that many women are living today but don't know how to change the narrative.

Lisa is the first person to admit you don't have to move to Florence, Italy to change your life; it's what worked for her. But if you want to change, if you want a fresh start, it's possible, and the story Lisa tells in her book just might be your inspiration to say, now is the time.

After hearing Lisa's story, you may just want to join her in Tuscany! She has a Signature Tour planned for April and October that is eight days and seven nights. Lisa can also help you customize your Tuscan vacation itinerary and plan a retreat.

Lisa Condie found herself in Tuscany, will you?

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Episode 51: Parker Villas 2017

January 15, 2017

Happy New Year! Now is the time to start planning your trip to Tuscany and Italy. It is our hope this podcast will set you on your way to what is sure to be an exciting journey.

Each year on the Total Tuscany podcast we like to talk with Mario Scalzi from Parker Villas. Mario's company offer premier villa rentals throughout Italy, and there are new and exciting properties that are coming online in Tuscany.

Our half-hour conversation with Mario covers a lot and is a starting point of what you should be looking for when it comes to renting a villa, even if you don't use Parker Villas. However, take it from us as we have used Parker Villas several times, they are the best.

In this latest conversation with Mario we discuss the following:

  • What is new for 2017
  • What kind of customer service you should expect when renting
  • What it takes to be a Parker Villa property
  • Hot spots in Tuscany
  • Hidden gems in Italy

Living and enjoying the Italian lifestyle is easier than you think, even if it is for one or two weeks. If you need help planning your trip or just need some up front information, feel free to reach out to us, info@totaltuscany.com. Also, look for our next Total Tuscany adventure and travel to Tuscany with Travis and Pat! Sign up to our newsletter and be the first to find out when we are going and how you can join us.

Ciao!

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Episode 50: “The Way” A Pilgrimage Through Tuscany

November 24, 2016

In 2011 Emilio Estevez captured the imagination of many movie goers with the film "The Way." Starring his father Martin Sheen, the feature introduced us to the Camino de Santiago, the way of St. James.

Pilgrimages date back centuries and are tied to religious traditions. Today's pilgrims make their trek for religious reasons, moral exploration, and spiritual clarity.

Have you heard of the Via Francigena? It's a pilgrimage to Rome that runs right through the heart of Tuscany. The entire trek starts in Canterbury, England and if you were to walk the entire route, it would take you several months.

In our 50th episode of the Total Tuscany Podcast, we introduce you to Roland Monsegu, the founder of FrancigenaWays.com-Roland is an expert in helping you plan your walking or cycling expedition.

Our conversation with Roland is fascinating, and he gives us invaluable advice about planning an excursion of such personal significance. The great thing about working with Roland, his company helps you navigate a journey that is as long or as short as you want it to be.

According to the company's website, on of the most popular options is section 14 of the Via Francigena. The walk from Lucca to Siena that covers 133 kilometers, or just over 82 miles for us Americans that still don't understand the metric system.

There is another expedition that starts in Tuscany and ends in Rome, Camino di San Francesco di Assisi or The Way of St. Francis for short. This journey begins in Florence makes its way to Assisi, and ends in Rome. The entire distance can be covered in 29 days, but can also be divided up into shorter sections to meet your personal preferences.

If you have been thinking about a personal journey or even exploring as a group, Roland, and his associates are the people you want to talk to when you start planning. The great news, they just don't focus on the Via Francigena. They can help you with treks all over the world including the Camino de Santiago in Spain.

We've always believed this podcast is a great way to learn more about Tuscany and the great cultural experience it has to offer. There are many different ways to explore the region; after listening to this podcast, we do hope your find your WAY.

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Episode 49: Find Yourself In Tuscany

July 30, 2016
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. 

Fast forward to 2016 and Lisa will tell you that she has zero regrets about her decision. Has it been easy? By no means, but it has been rewarding and life changing. Everything she wanted, and as you will find out in this podcast, the best is yet to come.

Lisa's website is www.finyourselfintuscany.com, and she invites other women to share in her experiences. No, she's not asking them to sell everything they own and move to Florence.  You can find yourself in Tuscany by taking one of Lisa's tours that take a deep dive into the history and culture of Tuscany. 

Take it from us; you can find yourself in Tuscany, how do you think this podcast started? Why do you think we started this website and are regularly posting stories about Tuscany? It's because we found ourselves there and experienced a people and a culture that speaks to our soul. We didn't have to move there to find what we are looking for on a daily basis. 

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!  
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Episode 48: Mary Shea from Querceto Di Castellina

June 18, 2016
When it comes to tourism in Tuscany, Querceto Di Castellina has what I call the holy trinity for visitors.

Great Location
Fantastic food and wine
Affordability

We stayed on the estate a couple of years ago for a full week; the picturesque setting remains embedded in our memories, and when we are drinking a bottle of Chianti Classico it's easy to imagine ourselves on the estates large terrace overlooking the vineyard.

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.

L' aura Chianti Classico 
Furtivo Igt Toscana Rosato 
Sei Chianti Classico Gran Selezione
Podalirio Igt Toscana
Livia Igt Toscana (White)

The estate also produces olive oil and Grappa di Chianti Classico
affinata in Barriques. 

For us, the best part about Querceto is not the wine. Don't get me wrong they taste amazing! But as you can tell from our podcast, we LOVE Tuscany, and it was Querceto that made it feel like home. There are ten apartments on location that sleep anywhere from two people up to six. You can stay here a night, a week, a month, or even longer. If we had our way, we would have never left. 

Enjoy this podcast and when you are planning your next trip to Tuscany make sure to visit Querceto Di Castellina. Until then, follow them on social media by clicking the following links. 
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