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!


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
-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!


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?


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.



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.


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!  

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

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. 

Episode 46: Join Us in Tuscany

March 9, 2016
It's hard to believe we have been podcasting for over two years! Hundreds of thousands of listens later we have arrived at episode #46.  The number itself isn't that significant; the content in this episode is what we are so excited for you to hear. 

After years of planning, organizing, making contacts, and testing, we are ready to launch the Total Tuscany experience! Join us October 29-November 5, 2016 on a trip of a lifetime. Whether it's your first trip to Tuscany or your next, this experience gives you the right amount of structure and organization but still the freedom to roam and take in Tuscany at your pace.

Our experience is tailor made for couples who are looking for a unique opportunity to travel, meet new friends, and ignite a passion that will open your soul to new possibilities and a slower pace of life. One of our favorite quotes about travel is this one by Saint Augustine.

"The world is a book and those who do not travel read only one page."

For the longest time, we were stuck on page one. Are you stranded, looking to turn the page to have the entire world open up? Start with us as we host you in the Tuscan countryside with other couples who share the same feeling for Italy as you do.

We are not going to use this blog post to go into full detail of what the trip entails.  Our suggestion, listen to the entire podcast. Once you have heard what we have to say about the journey, spend a lot of time going through and reading our newly designed website, (we hope you like it.) Here you will find all the information you are looking for about our planned Total Tuscany experience. What's included, what's not included, the cost of the trip, and a daily itinerary so you know exactly what you will be doing.  If you are excited about what you will be doing just by reading the website, trust us, experiencing it first hand is a million times better!

We want to know your thoughts. Feel free to leave your comments below.  Are you interested joining us in Tuscany this fall? send us a and email, info@totaltuscany.com and schedule a time to have a one-on-one conversation with us, we are looking forward to it!

Episode 45: Tuscany By Ferrari: Florencetown Tours

February 13, 2016
Is there anything cooler than a Ferrari? When you think of superb Italian design, speed, sophistication, and something you just want to experience; owning or even driving a Ferrari is on the list.

A brand new Ferrari can cost upwards of $400,000, maybe even more! When sitting down to write this post I started doing some basic research on Ferrari's and I think a post on Truecar.com sums it up much better than I can.

Ferrari models are built with speed and performance thanks to the company's racing background. Today's Ferrari cars are lauded as "supercars" and use the famous prancing horse symbol and signature "race red" color. Ferrari car prices are notoriously expensive as Ferrari caters to the upper echelon of consumers.

For the majority of us, the closest we will ever get to a Ferrari is at a car show where we are allowed to look, but not touch. Well, that is about to change. We've had Urbano Brini on the Total Tuscany podcast several times talking about his company, Florencetown Tours.  We have experienced several of the companies outings have given all of them 5-stars. Urbano is a brilliant marketer who listens to the wants and needs of his customers and is constantly looking for new ways to provide tourists an authentic experience in Tuscany.

Tuscany by Ferrari. A tour new in 2016 to the Florencetown line-up for travelers and tourists. Here's how the experience is described on the Florencetown website.

Strap in and start your engine! You’re in control; it’s time to hit the road along vineyards and olive groves. After the adrenaline subsides, relax and unwind in the heart of Chianti Classico wine region. Stop in a local medieval village for some pictures, and then enjoy the guided visit to a fascinating winery with its ancient cellars to learn the secrets of wine and olive oil production. At the end of the exciting drive, a traditional Tuscan lunch will be served with wine tasting at our boutique winery.

We have enjoyed the Tuscan lunch and wine tasting on the Florencetown Vespa Tour of Chianti, it's amazing!

A Ferrari driving experience isn't the only new tour for 2016; as I mentioned earlier, Urbano is listening to customers, and the feedback he keeps getting is from more thrill seekers.  That's you can now go "off-roading" on previous off-limits areas of Tuscany or how about a helicopter ride from Florence to Siena to check out an aerial view the Tuscan landscape? 

What started ten years ago as a couple of guys offering bike tours around Florence has grown into a company that prides itself on offering exceptional excursions in Florence and around Tuscany that focus on the customer experience and the service and attention each client gets. There's a Rick Steeves has recommended Florencetown in his travel guide five straight years.

Enjoy this podcast and get ready to start your engine as you begin to plan your first or next trip to Tuscany! 

Coming soon! The first ever Total Tuscany tour, spend a week with Travis and Pat in pure paradise, sign for our email newsletter and get more information when we officially announce details. 

We like to hear from you as well; please leave your comments or thoughts in the box below.

Episode 44: Parker Villas: A True Matchmaker

February 2, 2016
When you think of matchmaker, what comes to mind? An internet dating service? It's fine if you do, a simple Google search of the word yields 11,500,000 results.

The 1997 movie of the same name starring Janeane Garofalo might jar your memory or if you are little older, the 1958 cinema not so classic with Anthony Perkins (before Psycho) and Shirley MacLaine. 

Our friend Mario Scalzi is an Italian matchmaker. No, Mario is not a broker of relationships.  Instead, he looks to make the perfect pairing between you and the villa you choose to stay in when visiting Italy. Mario started Parker Villas over 20 years ago; full disclosure, we have rented from Parker Villas on three different occasions and give the company our highest recommendation.

This interview marks the 3rd time we have featured Mario and Parker Villas on the Total Tuscany Podcast. Why do we keep having him back? Simple, we think Parker Villas has the best selection of villas in Italy and Tuscany.  Besides have the best collection of vacations homes, Parker Villas offers 5-star customer service. This attention to satisfaction so important as you are getting ready to make an investment in what might be the trip of a lifetime.

Why are we having a conversation with Mario again? First, the Parker Villas Spring Sale is going on right now, and you can get great deals on vacation homes all over Italy including a large selection in Tuscany. 

Also, with the 2016 booking season about to hit a fever pitch, we thought it would be a good idea for you to hear about some of the new properties Parker Villas is offering and what are the major differences that set it apart from its competitors. 

Make sure to listen all the way to the end, we have a teaser for you on something big we are working on at Total Tuscany.  We want to know what you think of the podcast; please leave your comments below. Your feedback and suggestions are very helpful and give us great ideas on how we can tell stories that interest you. 

Thanks for listening and tell a friend or two about us.  We'll talk to you next week with another Total Tuscany Podcast.