Make Your Next Trip Extraordinary

We have traveled to Italy on several occasions but had never been to Puglia or Sicily. We have noticed an increasing amount of publicity and attention focused on these areas and how the crowds have not yet realized how much the south of Italy has to offer. With that in mind we contacted Alison and her team for assistance in planning our trip.

We initially had a phone conversation with Alison and Elise, at which time they asked about our interests, timeframe, concerns and past experiences. They clearly listened closely, as they responded with a proposed itinerary that reflected much of what we had discussed. As the planning process progressed they were always willing to make changes and responded to questions and requests promptly.

We have just returned from our two-week vacation and could not be more pleased with the arrangements that they made. The itinerary was well planned and executed. The combination of delicious food, interesting activities and amazing historical sites will certainly leave us with many wonderful memories. Particularly memorable are the people we met—interesting guides, winemakers, cheesemakers, chocolate artisans, bakers, jewelers and sculptors. Perhaps most memorable were the market tours with chefs followed by cooking classes and fabulous meals in their homes! Alison and Elise even met with us during the course of our travels to check in and kept tabs on us throughout our time in Italy.

Once the laundry is done we’re ready to get back on the plane to our next destination. Thank you Alison and Elise for making our Italian adventure one we will always remember!

Just back from a 10-day tour of Italy, Oct 16-26, 2023, that we began and ended by visiting our daughter’s home in Bologna, and our wonderful 2 grandchildren there. We had previous visits there and had taken daytrips from Bologna, but my wife and I wanted to see more of this fascinating country.

What a wonderful trip it was. Alison and Elisa worked with us to plan an agenda, modified it when we had additional requests, always kept in contact during the planning and made sure all our needs were met. We put together a tour that included 6 days in Puglia, ½ day in Matera and 3 ½ days in Naples, including the Amalfi Coast, Pompeii and Herculaneum, and a city food tour of Naples. This was nothing short of a fantastic experience. Every detail was anticipated and completed. The guides were absolutely great, with depths of knowledge and ease of communication that made us want to never stop. Drivers were very professional, often contributing to the information, and vehicles were first class.

Unexpected highlights were countless and included a textile factory in Puglia, La Constantine, where hand-operated looms have been creating beautiful fabrics for 200+ years, even items for Dior. The intensity and talent of these ladies at the loom was inspiring and we were able to purchase several lovely items, including a gift for our daughter’s home. A second surprise was the nature reserve at Torre Gauceto. A wonderful environmentalist led us on a 3 ½ hour walk along the coast and wetlands, home to thousands of migratory birds, a special interest of my wife and an example of how our planners could adapt expertly to meet our requests. A great example of the personal planning was the change of a scheduled e-bike tour through the “trulli” region as the original day scheduled was predicted to be rainy, and the tour was moved a day earlier, at the last moment, to ensure a wonderful bicycling experience, which it was. Elisa kept in close contact with us throughout and we were especially delighted to meet both her and Alison in the town of Polignano a Mare, and share coffee and gelato. All of the accommodations were tastefully elegant with wonderful staff. The food in Italy is beyond description and we have too many favorites to list. A real plus was the day in Naples, a food tour in the first half and on our own in the afternoon. Aldo gave us a superb food and history lesson and discussion, and the confidence to step out on our own. We finished in Naples and took the fast train to Bologna to complete our visit with family and enjoy a Halloween in Italy.

I was astounded just how well planned and executed this tour was and look forward to many more trips to Italy.

Our trip to Puglia was wonderful!! The travel specialists planned experiences that we will never forget.

We stayed in a palace with 10 rooms in Lecce, a trulli resort surrounded by the countryside where we were greeted by the owners and treated like royalty, and a cave hotel in Matera where we were wined and dined.

Our guides were top-notch, a marine biologist, an archaeologist and experts in all fields. We had lunch at an olive grove and we were served an exceptional lunch by the farm’s owners. We took a private cooking class in someone’s private home!! Our most cherished experience was that of a ceramic maker. We not only took a tour of his workshop—he invited us to his home to see his acquired antiquities.

Around each hike, tour, food experience there was a wow moment and a surprise—the best tour specialist by far!!!

I rented Villa Casa Badra for two months in May and June 2023. I worked with a small travel company in Puglia, whose owner also happens to own the villa I rented. This was fortuitous for a couple of reasons: the agency staff was able to facilitate not only details of my stay at the villa, but also assisted with other travel and tourism for the area. I cannot speak more highly about my stay. The villa is absolutely beautiful and very authentic to its region, being a series of Trulli which are reflective of the local town of Alberobello, a UNESCO World Heritage site. It has five bedrooms each with their own en suite, and a fully equipped kitchen that is housed in its own Trullo. The grounds are spectacular, with olive trees, cherry trees, fig trees, and an expanse of greenery, which allows for total quiet and the lack of visibility of neighbors or other individuals. Parking is ample. Housekeeping is performed twice a week by a marvelous woman who quickly became friends with my entire group of family and friends, who were my guests during my stay. Angela, the villa manager, who also works on Antonello’s team, was highly responsive to any need I had regarding the villa. Elisa was my main point of contact for making the booking originally and for booking tourist-related activities while I was there. I met Antonello, who is extremely gracious and friendly. It is important to have a car while at the villa because it is isolated and the nearest town is about a 5 km distance. Plus, you will want to make day trips to all of the various beautiful towns in Puglia. Anyone visiting between May and September will be very happy to know that the pool is large and delightfully set up. There is an outdoor kitchen and barbecue, and the house is very well stocked with everything one needs. Villa Casa Badra is a magical place in a magical area in a magical country. I highly recommend this very special experience.

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