As one of the owners of BellaTerra Travel, I’m amazed that we're fast approaching our 15-year anniversary. A dream, which started from a desire to share our love of travel and experiences with others, has come true.
I did not travel much when I was young. Our family was together every holiday. There was “Italy” on every corner of the neighborhood - Italian bread from the family that owned the bakery, and my aunt’s special cuccadati cookies. The kids shunned bakala at Christmas time but reveled in the biscotti that required you to sign a blood oath before getting her recipe. I wore a good luck charm from a relative of a relative who went to Italy but I had never been myself. When my family arrived in the US they never thought of going back and this was their home.
I was fortunate to work for a European based multi-national and spend time traveling in Europe but had never been to Italy until my husband and I decided to take a bike ride in Tuscany. That trip changed me forever. The minute I set foot in Italy I felt like I was home. Everything was new and interesting and yet had meaning and was familiar in some way. My husband and I got engaged on that trip, having stopped in the Cinque Terre in the charming town of Portovenere before returning home. After much time planning and looking at various options we decided to return to Italy to get married. We did not dance the Tarantella as we had at the big family weddings of my youth but we took all of our immediate family- mothers, brothers, sisters and kids to Italy to show them Rome, Florence, Tuscany and the Cinque Terre. We were tour guides most of the time driving small mini vans and organizing people. We had a wine tasting and a cooking class at the villa we stayed in. When the guitarist played under the stars during a special dinner the night before our wedding I felt a special connection to all the relatives who were not able to be there for our wedding.
Although I am also a Destination Specialist in France, Italy holds a special place in my heart. I feel like I am going home every time I go there and its as if my aunt is fixing me a big plate of pasta when I arrive for a visit. In honor of our 10th anniversary I have put together a couple of itineraries that are special for me. They include sipping my favorite coffee looking out at the water in the Cinque Terre and having a glass of wine on the rooftop in Florence watching the sun set over the Ponte Vecchio as well as the mountain town where my family learned to make pasta. Let me show you my favorite places in Italy!