Ciao Andiamo : Italy 2012

this past October i had the pleasure to do some documentary travels again for the awesome Ciao Andiamo, which i gave a little taste from in this recent post.

below is the FULL story of our 14 day journey throughout one of my most favorite places in the entire world,,, Italy! with our primary focus on the Tuscany & Umbria regions.

to check out more images from our recent travels or purchase a print,
click the "italy 2012" section in our FINE ART PRINTS GALLERY!

lets begin!
after being picked up at the airport in Rome by the one & only Max, Ciao Andiamo's local partner in Italy,
Jonathan, Max & i began our drive down to the Amalfi Coast. Jon & i were famished so Max made a quick stop at...
McDonalds. yes, McDonalds. but in Italy, this of course wasn't your ordinary Mickey D's.
first thing i noticed was cute little blue car in the parking lot.
instead of a cheeseburger or a big Mac, we filled up on some cappuccinos & these DELICIOUS chocolate filled croissants.
as i said, this wasn't your typical McDonalds... & at that point, i really didn't care where it came from!
back on the road & our next stop was in the town of Gragnano outside of Napoli,
where we met and visited with the family of a friend of Max's, Peppe.
we were immediately welcomed & treated to these tasty chocolate liquor shots.
Peppe also introduced us to some homemade pasta's & specialty drinks at a local store
and onward we went towards the one-of-a-kind Amalfi Coast
where the textures we came across were just as beautiful as the landscapes...
a little one & one time with God & the sky
we finally reached the Amalfi Coast...
there is just something about the clouds & colors in the sky there that is like no where else i have ever been.
i am pretty much obsessed with everything about Italy... down to the tiniest details :
to the way the nightlight accents the plants :
...and of course the textures of a sun-setting sky :
after a long day of travels, dinner at Fiorenzo's restaurant (where Ciao also holds cooking classes) in Conca dei Marmi
was juuuuuust what the doctor ordered
we stayed at Fiorenzo’s apartment that evening & were awoken to this glorious view & light
ahhh, Amalfi Coast, i seriously {HEART} you.
before getting on the road again, these chairs seemed to invite us to sit awhile & enjoy the view.
oh & maybe a cappuccino, or two!
which way should we go? our feet will let us know.
we also said our good-byes to the awesome chef Florenzo
saw some sweetness along the way...
stopped along the mountains... anyone up for hang-gliding?
or a nice little hike?
we finally made it to the region of Basilicata! first stop was Pietra Pertosa where we toured at Casa Grotta di vico Solitario
& saw what it was like for someone living in one of the rock homes as late as mid-20th century!

this was one of my favorite details from the rock home.
then there was the absolutely amazing Matera by night
and dinner that night at La Bottega... those dried red peppers were to DIE for!!!
oh yeah, & that homemade blueberry tart wasn't too bad either.
...and the daylight greeted us so well
we walked around to view more of the city...
something to read or a fresh picked olive or two? you choose.
we visited a number of different towns on this travel day, including a posh town where Italians summer called Gallipoli
& had a little spiritual time at Santa Maria di Leuca ...all the way at the tip of Italy, where the Adriatic and Ionian Seas meet
the three amigos! Max, Jonathan & i
with the beautiful coastline of Otrarno behind us.
loved people watching
had dinner at Il Rifiugio della Buona Stella & settled that night in a town called Lecce
the next day we got on the road & made a little pit stop to see & smell some pretty olive trees
& say hello to a few local pups
we also got a great view of Ostuni; a gorgeous white walled town.
on the road again
next stop Alberobello, Valle d’Itria...
where all the 'Trulli' or 'white homes with conical-shaped roofs are'
absolutely loved the feeling in this town.
my feet. on Trulli ground.
we saw lots of homes, textures & true Italian style of course.
and i even came across some more love-locks!!!
for as many times as i have been to Italy, i am endlessly in awe of the life, the design, of it all.
"The butterfly does not count years but moments of his short time here."
& a little 'tree house' along the way!
then we settled in at Masseria, where an amazing story of family reunion for Joseph & Irene happened.
there was family, there was laughter, there was a feast!
before parting ways the next morning, we took Joseph & Irene to visit Torrito and the street his father lived on!
(to read the full story of Joseph & Irene, click here)
& then drove to the radiant city called Trani...
where i happened to accidentally leave behind my iPhone in one of their local cafes -- epic FAIL!
although i did love the city very much.
driving through Abruzzo we spotted a rainbow... nice way to end a long drive.
the next day we picked up our amazing group at Stazione Tiburtina in Rome to begin our guided excursion!
first stop, Orvieto!
we toured town...
love everything about this image!
you know, just a typical sleeping cat
which way to Rome?! oh, that way!
next stop was a winery tour & tasting at Decugnano dei Barberi in Umbria
...with grapevines galore!
oh & just a 'few' barrels of wine
yes, i'm sorry to say but it was as delicious as it looks!
that evening we settled into Spello with a dinner fit for a king & queen at 'Drinking Wine' in Spello
we started the morning off right...
or in true Italian style, i should say.
& this is what i had to deal with EVERY day!!!
a little morning visit to Spoleto
this gentleman & his dog pretty much stole my heart
i learned what it meant to be "brave"...
we had a late lunch & visit at Castello di Sismano near Todi with the amazing Marchesa Ginevra,
whose family has owned the castle for centuries!
Ginevra's ancestors include a couple of patron saints, as well as the seller of the ship that would eventually become the famous Mayflower.
can we say INCREDIBLE?!

pictured below, from left to right is Vera (Max's mother-in-law), Cristiana (Max's wife), Max, Marchesa Ginevra & Jonathan!
love, love, love!
the absolutely amazing Max, Cristiana & their son Freddy.
L O V E!
Freddy is really cool
the family! the artwork in the middle is from their house. it reads, "Life is made of big dreams and small reality"
and our absolutely incredible couples, Nikki & Phil and Randy & Brenda.
we had so much fun with them!
there is something about fashion magazines written in Italian that i love so much.
just a little pit stop along the way...
pink clouds? why, yes please!
the next day we toured Cortona in the morning...
does this place look familiar to you?!! may if you are an Under the Tuscan Sun lover as i am!!!
next, we were off to Assisi to visit one of the most magnificent churches in all of Italy...
the Basilica di San Francesco.
after a great day, we ended the night at an amazing authentic cooking class experience at Malvarina!
of course i noticed all their fun details, too.
fresh produce! yum. let the cooking begin!
"Grandma's Kitchen"
"to create the order, you must first create the mess ..."
to say it was an incredible experience is an understatement.
homemade bread
& homemade dessert!
the next day, our bellies were still SO full...
but that didn't stop us from a winery visit and tasting at the Scacciadiavoli estate in Montefalco!
i super{HEART} this 'cucina' or 'kitchen' sign & wall!
i don't know what it is, but when i took this photo, i felt as if it had a story all in its own.
let the wine tasting begin!
we then visited a local sheep farm...
where we saw some sheeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeep
& also experienced artisanal pecorino-making!
they produce the area's only hand-made pecorino cheese -- no machines whatsoever!
we drove through the iconic rolling hills of Tuscany...
insert -----> BIG SIGH here
the infamous trees of Tuscany
& a little winery visit, estate tour & tasting in Montalcino
on the last day, we dropped the group back in Rome & got a little sweet pick-me-up
and as if the trip couldn't end any better, after almost 8 days, my phone made it's way back to me!!!
there are good people in this world.
& a BIG thanks again to Max-Gyver who made it all happen!
my last dinner in Italy (for now )
with Jonathan & his friend Brian in Rome at a neat modern restaurant, Settimbrini Cafe'...
where they had many books & quotes on the walls,
including this one :

"It takes courage,
it takes a calm,
it takes patience,
it takes love,
the planet
not more
than a simple blue ball." ~E.S.

not a bad note to end the trip on, i'd say.
for now, i bid you a "CIAO"!
until next time....
to check out Ciao Andiamo's blog post from our travels, click here!

for more information to join one of their future Tuscany & Umbria excursions and see current available dates,
check out their excursions page by clicking HERE!

to check out more Italy images or purchase a print,
click the "italy 2012" section in our fine art prints gallery by clicking here!

con amore,


Back to all posts