COMMENTS FROM OUR TRAVELERS
By courtesy of our travelers, following you can read just a few of the many thank-you notes they sent after tours with us, since we started in the year 2000. To all of of our friends, our warm thoughts always go, and... can't wait to meet you again!
This was certainly a trip of a life time. We left home on October 23 not knowing what we would find in Abruzzo, Italy. We were curious about the country our grandparents and my mother came from. Never did we expect to meet the family that my grandparents left behind in the early 1900's. I knew there were no Caramanicos left in the Abruzzo area but I didn't realize our grandmother (Marcello) had so many nieces and nephews left in the area. Thank you for finding them and contacting them with our itinerary. They were coming out of the woodwork. We loved meeting them and visiting with them. Every body was warm and inviting. We were strangers but we never felt strange. It was so much fun to come down to the hotel lobby and have the clerk say "you have visitors". Thank God for Chiara, our interpreter. She was with us when our cousin Antonio came in from Ripa Teatina to invite us to lunch on the following Saturday in Ripa. And of course she was there through the whole lunch to help us with the translations. There were 18 of us at the table and we all had lots to say in a short amount of time.
We really appreciated how flexible Chiara and Leonardo (our driver) were. We were scheduled to do Ripa Teatina on Friday. Because our cousins wanted to treat us to lunch on Saturday we were able to switch the schedule around so we could join the Marcello family in Ripa on Saturday. They gave us gifts from Ripa and from Abruzzo. They showed us pictures of the visit our grandmother, my mother and my Aunt made to Ripa in 1967. We have a family photo of our Cousin Antonio and his siblings they had reproduced for us. There was a picture of my grandmother standing with Antonio in 1950. Antonio is the spitting image of our cousin Bob. Santina let me have the picture so I could show it everyone here. I also had taken a few pictures from my mother's album from the 1967 visit. It turned out they were taken in Antonio's house. It was such a special lunch that I cried when we were leaving. Chiara had to tell our cousins I was crying from joy. I was so thrilled to meet everyone. The town hall was open on Saturday so I wanted to get my mother's birth certificate and my grandparent's marriage certificate. It was taking a long time so Antonio just walked into an office and 10 minutes later he came out with the reproductions of the certs.
We met Antonio and Santina on our first day in Pescara. On Thursday we had a free day. No Chiara and Leonardo. So we sat at the breakfast table trying top decide what to do when the hotel clerk came in to tell us we had company again. We met Vincenzo, his daughter and his granddaughter who live in Pescara. Thank goodness Anna, his granddaughter, spoke English. They walked us back to their home to meet another daughter, Vincenzo's wife and a grandson. We spent about 2.5 hours with them. Through Anna we were able to tell them about the cousins we left behind in America. They wanted to know as much as they could about us and all the rest of my grandmother's grandchildren.
Abruzzo is a beautiful part of the world. Its hills are endless. Leonardo was such a wonderful driver. He knows those hills like the back of his hand. We appreciated how flexible he was. My cousin Tina's husband, Tony, had the name of the town that his grandparents came from. Leonardo researched it and drove us into the town one day. We did a photo opt so Tony could bring back pictures for his mom. I know Tony's mom she will be thrilled.
I don't know of many tour company's that would be as flexible as ABRUZZO TOURS. You planned a trip for us that we will never forget. Our cousins from Ripa Teatina want my cousin Tina and her husband Tony to send their 16 and 13 year olds over to Ripa for the summer. That opens up possibilities for all of us to get together again. I doubt a 16 and 13 year old would want to leave their home and friends for 2 months but it would be a wonderful opportunity for them.
I've spent so much time talking about the relatives that I haven't even touched upon the rest of the tour. The restaurant selection was superb. We ate in out of the way country restaurants where the owners were the chefs. The food was outstanding. Each restaurant was located in a wonderful little town built on a hillside. Each town had its share of churches and shops and forts or castles. Each had a history that went back hundreds, if not thousands, of years. In Ripa I asked my cousin Antonio how far back the town dated. He said Atilla the Hun's mother lived there. I guess that answered my question.
The hotels were great. They were beautiful, clean, comfortable and in the center of activity. In Pescara we were on the beach. In L'Aquila we were in the heart of town. We were within walking distance to everything at each hotel. We were not scheduled to be in Rome at all. But ABRUZZO TOURS switched some leisure time around and we had a day and a half in Rome. We made the best of that time and saw more of Rome in 1.5 days them some see in a week. We did the Vatican on Wednesday afternoon and the rest of the city on Thursday. I think we did 10 miles on foot in 10 hours on Thursday in Rome. It was great.
My cousins and I would like to thank every one who had a part in our tour of Abruzzo. It is a trip that left us with memories we will cherish forever. Thank you for the family research and for putting us in touch with our Italian cousins.
I so enjoyed my time in Abruzzo. I have recommended Abruzzo Tours and your organization to everyone who asks about my vacation. It truly was the finest trip i have taken in my life. Chiara, yourself, Daniele, your sister, just everyone, couldn't have been nicer. The places you chose for our visit were unique and offered a glimpse into the real Italy. The "Heart" of Italy describes to perfection your trip. I would only add the word "soul". As I think the Abruzzo region is the heart and soul of Italy.
I know I will return to the Abruzzo region and I know it will be through Abruzzo Tours. Give my best to everyone and again, thank you for a truly unique experience.
We had a wonderful and memorable day trip to Calascio and Rocca Calascio. The view from the top was a marvel to behold. Since that day, a tranquil sensation has come over me as I recalled my ancestors walking the same paths before me. I thought that I would make this trip once but now eagerly look forward to another visit.
The stop at St. Stefano and the climb up the tower gave a rare look into the medieval life of this town. Lastly, the walking tour of L'Aquila was quite impressive and left us longing to return for more.
Ciao, mio amico!
We have taken several tours over the last few years, but the Abruzzo Food and Wine tour that we just completed is by far the highlight of them all. In the past we had visited Rome, Florence, Venice, Capri etc., However, we never felt that we had really seen Italy because every place we visited was crowded with thousands of tourists. We got a hint of how nice the Abruzzo could be on our last trip to Italy when we visited my wife's cousins in Loreto Aprutino. That visit ignited our desire to take the Abruzzo Food and Wine tour and hopefully see the real Italy. My wife's father and mother both had roots in the Abruzzo, and we wanted to see the places where her ancestors had lived and perhaps visit with cousins that were still living there. Thanks to the efforts of the Abruzzo Tour team we were able to fulfill those wishes and had two wonderful visits with cousins and were able to visit the home villages of both her mother and fathers families. The rest of the tour exceeded our wildest expectations. The restaurants on the tour were fabulous. The food in every one was well prepared, visually appealing and delicious.
Without exception, the people of the Abruzzo were welcoming and happy to meet us and help us enjoy the visit. It was as if they were all family and could not do enough to make our visit enjoyable. Finally, the tour could not have succeeded as it did without the efforts of the Abruzzo tours staff. It was obvious that the Abruzzo Tours team had planned the trip meticulously. Every place that we visited was great, the restaurants, the shops the winery all were great. Chiara was the best tour guide that one could possibly wish for. She went out of her way to make all of us feel welcome and worked tirelessly to make sure each of us enjoyed every minute. When we visited the church in Loretto Aprutino, she did a great job of detective work to locate my wife's cousin and arrange a quick visit and later a dinner with them at which she served as our interpreter and made the visit doubly enjoyable. On our free day visit she became part of the family and really helped us connect with the cousins in Montenerodomo. Daniele and Lucio were both expert drivers and assisted us in every way possible. They never hesitated to go out of the way to fulfill our wishes.
We would never hesitate to recommend the Abruzzo Food and Wine tour to anyone. We have already recommended it to our families and will continue to do so to anyone we meet. We hope to have the opportunity to return to the Abruzzo many more times. Thank you Chiara, Daniele and Lucio for giving us the most enjoyable ten days of all time!
I've waited a lifetime to see Italy and fortunately I made the best choice possible. Touring Abruzzo and all its points of interest was more than I ever expected. Our tour guides were exceptional, the bus drivers were enjoyable, the small towns and villages along with the seek and find of my family is more than I can put into words. The hotels were lovely, especially in Atri and L'Aquila (the one in Rome was quite small) but really fine for just one night stay.
I believe that I left my heart in a little town called Scanno. The simplicity of the life style and the graciousness of the people touched my heart in so many ways. The food was delicious and every meal was an adventure. I will never forget the homemade pasta, the sumptous wines, the visit to the olive oil company, the succulent pastries, the candy company and the cheese plant. What made it all so much more grande were the people on the tour. I feel I made friendships that will last a lifetime.
Thank you for having this tour as I thank God for finding you and this treasure.
Words can not describe the beauty and tranquility of the Abruzzo area. Seeing the villages nestled on the hillside, magnificent mountains and especially the friendliness of the people both from the area and the other travelers made this an outstanding tour. I am sorry, we did not do the full tour, it spoiled us for the rest of Italy.
All tour guides were very professional and friendly individuals. The hospitality that they showed us was outstanding. We never felt that we were alone or in any danger. We were met on time at the airport and than delivered back to the train station in plenty of time to catch our train. The guides were very flexible with their tour - if one wanted to spend extra time in a certain area, the group was not rushed. We were able to see a variety of activities and also have some down time to explore on our own.
Yes, we would take the tour again, and would highly recommend it.
Here's my Top Ten Reasons to go to Abruzzo and Italy!
1. You eat from 1:30 to 4:30 NON-STOP!
2. There's not a bad site anywhere you look!
3. The cappuccino and expresso can be obtained ANYWHERE & ANYTIME!
4. The WINE and CHEESE are endless and spectacular!
5. You get to experience MANY different cities and truly "see" the culture 1st hand!
6. You can risk ordering from an ALL Italian menu and "pray" whatever you get is not served "raw"!
7. You get the BEST gelato EVER in any flavor you want (if you can read the flavors in Italian)!!
8. The tour guide and the driver are WONDERFUL and allow you to chant "inappropriate" Italian words and offenses as you round a steep hill!
9. There's NOT a BAD looking MAN in the country - NOT even the OLD MEN!
10. You make WONDERFUL and LASTING friendships with other Italian Lovers!
THANKS to EVERYONE FOR A GREAT TIME!!
My husband and I made reservations for a 3-day Custom Tour with Abruzzo Tours. Our plan was to visit ancestral home towns. Our first encounter with our tour guide was when he met us at the Rome airport to transport us to our Pescara Oceanfront Hotel; an excellent choice. He was our Interpreter and Guide, as well as our Driver (a very careful driver) He has a warm and engaging personality who made us feel comfortable and welcome.
Not being knowledgeable about the language or the country, and with limited information, we relied heavily on our tour guide. He did not disappoint us. He is very detail oriented, well prepared and professional. He was a wealth of knowledge about the Italian culture (and he was constantly trying to feed us!). We were able to visit the towns of Perano, Cornacchiano and Guglionesi (beautiful country, spectacular views). Because of his congenial and engaging personality, he easily interacted with the local people to secure some information about our families, heretofore unknown. We more full appreciate our ancestry.
He even arranged an memorable and enjoyable lunch with a Perano cousin and his family, whom we had never met. With his dedication and expertise, he made sure that our Tour met our expectations. A tour of just 3 short days - far too little time, but far more than we expected!
The suitcases are unpacked, the presents distributed and all that's left are the memories. We have been on many vacations, to many different locations, but none can compare to this one. There is no doubt that the sights of Rome and Tuscany are a tourist's delight. However, if you want to experience the real Italy and its history, culture, food and spirit, then Abruzzo is the place to visit and Abruzzo Tours is the company to use.
This trip had it all!! From the picturesque mountain towns of Bominaco, Abbatteggio, Scanno and Pescocostanzo - To the medieval pagent we were lucky to see in Sulmona, and the beaches of Silvi Marina and Pescara, where the sand was like silk and the water as blue as aquamarine. The scenary was breathtaking, the churches magnificent and the people friendly, generous and delightful.
My husband always teases me that the Abruzzese people are the worlds best cooks and that the finest chefs come from here. I thought he was just bragging because of his heritage, but I have to admit, that this trip proved him correct. Each meal was both a feast for the eyes and the palate. After 2 days we had to plead for smaller portions, as we couldn't eat anymore and didn't want to offend the chefs who were cooking for us. My husband said that watching chef Lidia's mom making pasta alla chitarra, brought back the days of cooking with his Nonna.
This vacation wouldn't have meant as much as it did, had it not been for the people who made it possible. Bravo to Lamberto for putting this all together (including our extra week on the beach in Pescara). To Leonardo, who put up with us all week and drove us everywhere with a smile. To Chiara, our tour guide, whose knowledge, personality and kindness will always be remembered. She welcomed us into her home and will forever have a special place in our heart. To Piera, who I can't thank enough, even though we've never met in person. She managed to cut through all the red tape and make a daunting task easy. When we made a trip to La Porta dei Parchi (a sheep farm) and fell in love with a Pastore Abruzzese puppy, it was Piera who arranged to have the vet visit the puppy -get a passport for the dog, secure passage for him on our flight home and even changed hotels in Rome for us when the first hotel wouldn't accept dogs. We would not being enjoying "Bruno" now had it not been for Piera.
Finally, I would be remiss, if I didn't mention the wonderful people we met and shared this time together with. To John, who after each meal, when we couldn't move kept reminding us that "IT IS A FOOD AND WINE TOUR AFTERALL"- and who found all the best gelato shops in Abruzzo. To Teresa and Maria Caterina, who we feel as though we've known our whole lives, and who had a hand in naming our puppy. You are all Bruno's godparents. We cant wait until next year to return to Abruzzo. This is one trip we could take ever year.
GRAZIE TANTE TO ALL!
What was really wonderful about my experience (October Food and Wine Tour 2006) was that it made me realise how lucky I was to have so many aunts, uncles, cousins and friends in Abruzzo. In fact, I think I had taken them them for granted, especially when I experienced the yearning and longing of some of the amazing people on the tour who were desperate to re-discover the beginnings or at most, find someone who knew or had known their ancestors.
The joy and excitement that John experienced when you took him to his town and he met his cousins, had coffee with them - met his auntie who he only remebered from letters and conversations when she was very young was all amazing and very emotional. I will never forget running into him in the piazza in L'Aquila, he was walking around looking for someone to share it all with and to just tell someone what had happened for him that day.
I suppose my semi-participation in the tour must have been annoying for some of you, but I hoped that it may have brought a little bit of reality and sense of family to the tour group by meeting my wonderful cousins, seeing my mother's village (Camarda); where I was born and went to school (Assergi) etc. etc. I am so blessed and so extremely fortunate to have them all - to know I can call them, to know where my parents and grandparents lived and to still be able to go back and be recognised.
Even though I enjoy being with my family, the tour was for me a rewarding and very liberating experience. It allowed me the opportuity to have a short time to experience L'Aquila on my own, to visit the surrounding towns and villages and enjoy the freedom of travel as well as the accepted family commitments.
My love of Italy and in particular Abruzzo has now boundaries. I live and work for the day when I can be there for longer periods and be part of that way of life that is beyond description and is unknown outside of Italy.
My sincere best wishes to all of you. Se Dio vuole, ci rivediamo!
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