… “we were able to meet not only real Umbrians: writers, artists, photographers, chefs, business people and also your very own dear friends and family. Grazie mille for allowing us to share your life, your world, your Umbria!
Lee & Ron
At An Italian Affair our tours are hand made. Like all hand made products, every outcome is unique. We are regularly approached by individuals and organizations wishing to meet our contacts or providers of this or that activity that we engage in on our tours. Not for the want of not sharing but on so many occasions it is simply not possible as many of the people with whom we are engaging are simply not commercial operators.
Our very special friends, Massimo and Cecilia, Benedetto and Gianluca, Rodney and Daniela, have opened all of Umbria to us in the way only a passionate local can. Our connections to the Vintage Car Club of Spoleto enables one of the unique experiences we enjoy, these passionate lovers of their machines and locality share their passion with us voluntarily as a result of the bridge we have built between Umbria & Australia. Their time is not for sale.
When we visit the family of Vantaggi in Strettura we are invited into his kitchen and inducted into the secrets of the unique bread his family have been making for many generations. Vantaggi, is not a tourist operator, he is our local baker. Whilst we surely could have a bread making experience with another baker what we understand when we participate in the activity is that although at a superficial level we have learnt how the “umbri” make bread, the experience is much more than that.
It is not the making of bread that has us leaving with our hearts full, lifting with joy and passion, a tear in our eye. It is the connectedness we feel to the people with which we have had the experience, to the Italians for their very generosity. They share their family history, their experience and home, their place and pride with passion, a passion that permeates their whole approach to life. The very enthusiasm with which they receive us is truly humbling and only possible as a result Antonella having a connection at a deep level to all the people with which we choose to interact in Umbria. Our necessity is to express respect and gratification and leave them only with the lightest touch on their simple way of life. It is these aspects of what we do, this hand made attention to crafting the experience that makes the opportunity to travel to Umbria with Antonella, with An Italian Affair, truly unique.
In Castelluccio we journey with Biagio, a mountaineer and naturalist who has a deep connection to the mountains of Northern Umbria, he invites us into the places he has known all his life. His passion for these mountains is gorgeous & infectious as he revels in sharing the secrets of the mountains and their unique flora & fauna & how they have influenced the cultural and culinary history of this pocket of Italy.
Daniela, our very good friend in Spoleto has a passion for the history of Umbria. Beyond facts she is also deeply in tuned to the spiritual aspect of Umbrian life and how the narrative of the life of St Francis of Assisi has shaped the Umbrian psyche. Transcending religion, with Daniela we are inducted into the real meaning of St Francis and his humble ways. Visiting the sacred woods of St Francis in the presence of a true scholar we can appreciate how the legend & reality of St Francis intersect and are manifested in the lives of all Umbrians today. The example of the rejection of the material and the preference for the generosity of real human interaction are in evidence over & over again in Umbria. It is a common occurrence for our participants to feel overwhelmed by just how kind in spirit the local people are to us, well beyond any expectation.
With Zio Maurizio, Antonella’s uncle, we share the history of her Village & home Casigliano. Enjoying the clean air on his terrazza he spontaneously bursts into song as his heart is lifted with the joy of sharing his home with his niece and her friends. A village of a dozen families, you can feel his pride in the unique location, the fields, the fresh figs picked from the trees, the bounty of the forests in the form of “cinghiale” or wild boar or “tartufi” fresh truffle, the clear air & fresh breeze. People here are simple and honest. Although many have not travelled far it is impossible to spend time with them and not understand how they might be convinced that they live in the loveliest spot in the world. It is their reality.
At An Italian Affair what we ask of you is to participate honestly, to truly express yourself. We put aside our schedules, commitments & emails for two weeks in order to connect with people who want to share their lives with us. Antonella is the conduit, the Italian language is the device, the spark and it is when open minds & generous hearts connect that a transformative experience happens. Every year we see it.
Our offering is unique because you are being invited into somebody else’s life and it is when you reach out, when you make the effort, risk yourself and have the courage to connect stutteringly in Italian the magic happens. That magic is that we get embraced by a world that wants to know us, by a people that are grateful that we exist, that we have come into their lives. This depth of experience, this connectedness is what draws people back again and again and creates a feeling of coming home. Home to a world we all sense existed, in a dream or a movie or a book, now somehow made real.
Join us in Umbria, it is a journey both without and within. We invite you to dive into the experience of running deep instead of wide and in the process yourself become changed.