We create each day as a work of art. Here is a sampling of what we have included in past Aria Tours.
"Driving through the marble quarries is an experience that will stay with me always."
- MS, Indianapolis, IN
We follow Michelangelo around everywhere! Starting in Florence to view the most famous sculpture in the world, The David, we oftentimes are able to arrange a private visit. Because Alessandra Marchetti's home and property was once owned by Michelangelo, she is an expert on his life and she will mesmerize you with her story about the artist. And because we want you to understand not only the journey of the artist, we will take you to the Carrara marble quarries where Michelangelo personally selected his perfect blocks for his masterpieces. This is the journey of stone that will profoundly change the way you see sculpture.( Oh, and did we mention we also visit private archives to personally view his letters and drawings? Only open to scholars, this door is open for us.)
"The Aria Tour had the best food I have ever eaten on any trip I have taken in the world!" -KM, New York City
Tuscan cuisine is at the heart of daily life. We have selected a few restaurants owned by friends who we believe serve the finest food in Tuscany, but on most days, we dine "at home" in the Villa - meals prepared by chefs. Meals that include what is fresh, local and organic. Even within Tuscany, food varies among cities. We endeavor not only to give you the best table experience of your life, but educate you on olive oil and pasta for example - knowledge you can take back home and incorporate into your diet. We visit olive oil producers, so that you can acquire a firsthand look at how the liquid gold is produced! In the Fall, we have the opportunity to go on a truffle hunt in the woods and later, enjoy a multiple course meal made with truffles - the most expensive food in the world! A truffle hunt is one of the most fun things to do in Italy during that season.
"Wine is sunlight, held together by water." -Galileo Galilei
Chianti, Brunello di Montalcino, Nobile di Montepulciano, Vernaccia di San Gimignano, Vin Santo….names of wines that are swoon-inducing. Fine wine has been made in Tuscany since the 8th century when the Etruscans were early exporters. We introduce these beautiful wines to you at the table every day. We also visit the regions in Tuscany where they are made – tastings arranged by us at exclusive wineries producing world class vintages. Not only will you have the opportunity to sample the wines, but you will be transported back into time, as many of the wine cellars have been in use for centuries. Many of the wines are not available in the United States – so, of course, we will help arrange shipping for you, so you can continue this experience upon returning home!
"No one believes me when I tell them Puccini's granddaughter sat with us during a private concert in his home and the music was played on his piano! Unforgettable." -DM, Indianapolis, IN
The Stonecutter's Aria is written as a three act Puccini-esque opera. We have cultivated a relationship with Casa Puccini, in Torre del Lago, the Maestro's summer home and where he composed most of his breathtaking arias. Signora Simonetta Puccini, his granddaughter and last living descendant, is a fan of The Stonecutter's Aria and has made it possible for us to have a private visit and tour of the home, which is just as Puccini left it when he died in 1929. And not only that - we can oftentimes arrange for a private concert in his salon, just for us! Imagine a soprano singing those heart-wrenching arias from Madama Butterfly and La boheme, accompanied by a pianist on the very piano Puccini composed them on! It is a true thrill to step back through the veil of time, listening to music as Puccini himself would have heard it.
"In physical comfort and luxury, the Etruscans cannot have been surpassed by any contemporary nation." -Sir George Dennis, The Cities and Cemeteries of Etruria, 1883
The Etruscans: refined, intelligent, wealthy and innovative. This civilization existed from about 700 BC to when the Romans absorbed them a few hundred years later. They built on cliffs to protect themselves and were geniuses at trade, especially wine and olive oil. Carol's family farm is in the area of two of the most notable cities: Sorano and Pitigliano. An archaeologist will take us on a fascinating walk through history, through the ornate tombs (the women’s were highly decorated, as they were treated as equals to men). Ceremonial paths have even older origins to a time when the Divine was Feminine. This area of southern Tuscany, called The Maremma, is not on the usual tourist itinerary, but we think it may be the most beautiful area of all Tuscany.
"Anything made by hand is a sacred act." -Carol Faenzi
The “Made in Italy” label that is genuine is getting harder and harder to find, even in Italy. But we know where to take you – for leather goods crafted by the fine hands of artisans who continue working with the traditional methods - for paper - for original works of art by contemporary artists. We visit the studios of artisans in Florence and also in Pietrasanta, a city near marble quarries, frequented by Michelangelo and where today 1,500 artists from all over the world are sculpting in bronze, marble and other mediums. Pietrasanta is a city where one encounters inspiring sculpture in every piazza. Purchases made by artisans are not souvenirs. They are keepsakes you will treasure for a lifetime.