Year of Magical Thinking - My Tuscan Aria

Year of Magical Thinking

The stroke of midnight birthing a new year as the old one faded, was a weird cocktail of emotions for me: relief, gratitude, sadness, elation, and hope. I don’t think any of us would say that we are sorry to see 2020 over and behind us.

Arrivaderci, 2020! Benvenuti, 2021!

Before we write it all off as a nightmare, I invite you to think about what good, possibly even great things happened in your life because of the pandemic or just because it was time for change.

I would love to hear from you about this if you care to share with me.

Maybe you learned a new language, wrote poems, reinvented your business or career, (or at least thought about it differently?). Maybe, like me, you fell in love. Maybe you learned to meditate, or you caught up on reading all those books piled on your nightstand. Maybe you caught up on your rest, exercise, friendships. Maybe you perfected a family recipe, found time to call family or friends on the phone, wrote a card or letter. Maybe you became a bird watcher, a gardener or observer of nature. Maybe you rediscovered how important time is and put away the phone more often. Maybe you were caregiver for an elderly parent.

All of us, like it or not, were given the opportunity to use and think about time differently. Some of you were/are holding down a job and looking after children at home. Some of you had loved ones in the hospital and waiting for news occupied your days. Some of you lost a job, or If you are an entrepreneur, you saw your business disappear and  left with problems, and lots of time on your hands. Time to reflect, worry, think, invent, calculate, make new plans or change course.

I had four Aria Tours to Tuscany planned for 2020. This is my core business and I saw it evaporate almost overnight. Hopefully, Fall 2021 will allow for these trips to go on and make up for the loss. Not being able to do a thing about it gave me the opportunity and the TIME to think about my excursions and how I can make them even more beautiful, exclusive, and safe.

- Josiyah Martin

The magic in new beginnings is truly the most powerful of them all.

So, I have some announcements to share, some of what has resulted from this year of magical thinking:

New Partnerships in France and Spain:
Andy Swann Voyage and Spain Savvy!

France, Spain, and Italy share several common themes: a romance language, culture, top cuisine and wines, artistic masterpieces, architectural, and natural beauty.

In addition to continuing offering trips to Tuscany, I am collaborating with two companies who have similar travel philosophies to mine: small group, exclusive and private experiences and transportation, luxury travel.

With personal safety and security concerns rating high on a traveler’s mind these days, we are in a great position, as we have always created trips that delivered on those desires.

We will work together to promote each other’s travel businesses and are also exploring opportunities to combine trips. One week in Provence or Spain and one week in Tuscany as a tour, for example, for wine lovers, art lovers, special experiences curated and customized for small groups.

Andy Swann Voyage

Andy is sometimes referred to as the British Guy on the Riviera. I was introduced to Andy by my friend, Virtuoso Travel Agent, Kelly Shea when we were in Cannes during a travel conference a few years ago. Andy is married to very successful and beautiful, Sophie, who is in charge of marketing for France’s top hotel – the Hotel du Cap, Eden Roc.

Andy has years of experience in the hotel business and found himself always being asked to set up special experiences for guests. He started his own business a few years ago and hasn’t stopped since, that is, until the pandemic. This forced pause allowed us to formalize our partnership and strategize. In addition, Andy has an ooh la la French Wine Page. If you love French wine and would relish a trip to a select winery or purchase Andy’s selections online, take a look here. You can also follow his wonderful posts on Instagram and Facebook.


Spain Savvy

Let me tell you about the owner, this vivacious and lovely woman, Sarah Gemba. Boston-bred, living in Seville, Spain. (She fell in love and married a Spaniard. Raising three adorable children). She has become an expert on putting together trips for families, small groups, and individuals all over Spain as well as Portugal and even Morocco!

Her clients cannot say enough about her. I have never been to Spain and I absolutely will be crossing that off my list in the next couple of years. She also has Italian heritage, and we’ve had a great time, sharing stories of la famiglia.

Follow Spain Savvy on Instagram and Facebook.


Kelly Shea Travels

I use the services of travel agent, Kelly Shea both personally and professionally. She books all the travel for my guests on the Aria Tours. Kelly is located in Indianapolis, Indiana and she is an expert on travel to Europe (with a special focus on Greece) as well as more exotic locations such as Nepal, Tibet, Bhutan and destinations within Africa.

She is the person to call if you want to go on an international cruise or plan a honeymoon. Kelly has rescued me on more than one occasion when travel when awry.

Email Kelly or call her at: 317-805-5770


Read a recent article about Kelly here.

I am thrilled about expanding my travel business through these partnerships and being able to offer you the best possible resources for future travel, as a couple, with friends, with family or as a solo female traveler.

New Studio Opening!

My significant other is artist, Lloyd Brooks. Our romantic connection has led to a creative collaboration. Not only has he been the design force behind my textile business of making silk scarves, pillows, etc. from my private collection of Italian images, he has designed my new logo and branding.

He is a highly talented painter and has taken my photography of places in Tuscany (near and dear to my heart) as the subject matter for a whole series of paintings. He also paints Indiana inspired landscapes, a series called “It’s a Quaint Little Neighborhood” and “Lake Life”.

He is a highly talented painter and has taken my photography of places in Tuscany (near and dear to my heart) as the subject matter for a whole series of paintings. He also paints Indiana inspired landscapes, a series called “It’s a Quaint Little Neighborhood” and “Lake Life”.


Lloyd is opening a studio this month and we will work together to put on private receptions for just a few people at a time to showcase his work as well as my textiles.

(You can expect there to be olive oil and wine tastings included).

You can check out Lloyd’s paintings on Instagram.

Update on 2021 Aria Tours & Villa Finding Services Now Available

An all Ladies Tour is set for October 2 - 9.  Five places are filled, so there's room. 

A second all Ladies Tour is set for October 16-23. A couple of spots left on this one.

Going to Tuscany on your own? Need to find just the right Villa or Apartment? I am now offering this service. Don't try to vet accommodations over the Internet. Let us find the perfect spot for you.

That goes for which wineries to visit, best restaurants, driving services - just about anything you wish to do on your trip. 

I am compiling a list of favorites as a downloadable e-document. This will be available first quarter 2021.

Once there is a green light to travel, there will be pent up demand into 2022. 

I am now able to curate customized travel for small groups any season of the year. Let me know what you have in mind and I will be happy to help.

 Happy New Year. May it bring us all renewal, joy, health and yes, magic.

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Contact me to stay informed about my upcoming tours and other options for unique travel experiences. 

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