Monday, November 10, 2014


          As most you know by now, my journey to Italy begins every year in May and ends in October.  In May, there are many flowers that are beautifully manicured throughout Italy, from the coastal areas with the vibrant Bougainvillea, to the yellow Ginestra. Bougainvillea, climbing plants that vary in color, tend to grow on the side of buildings and walls in the region. The Ginesta is a countryside bush, yellow in color, that lines the mountain side and can also be found along the side of volcanos. The word Ginestra is translated Broom. Not even close to looking like a broom!

June in Italy is defined by it's long warm days, and buzzing nights. Along the coasts, lidos will begin to open so that any of the locals, or plethora of visitors, can rent an umbrella. You can hear the sounds of the children playing in the streets during the day, and at night you can listen to the chattering of the people as they are sitting outside at the local cafe. The shops are opened much later in the evening, giving tourists and locals alike, a chance to get more enjoyment during this wonderful month.

The month of July brings many tourist to my beloved Calabria. Here lies crystal blue waters of the Ionian and Terranean Seas. This area is mostly populated by Australians, some Americans, and many Northern Italians. They come here for peace and relaxation and for the wonderful  hospitality of the locals.  The pace may be a little slow here, but this is how it should be when you are on vacation right?

August, when I am not in Calabria you can find me touring in Rome and all the major cities in Italy. I choose this month because being so hot and knowing many of the locals are on vacation the crowds are not as large. This makes it easier to visit the museums and walk the busy streets of the cities.

 September and October! If you love harvest these are the months for you. Wine, chestnuts, mushrooms, just to name a few, this is what you will find all over Italy. You may want to stay on a vineyard (with Ionian Jewel Tours) or a local town and adventure out and take part in the everyday harvesting. Which ever month you choose to be in Italy,you will become Italy.
Smell of the Sea and Flowers on the Ionian Coast of Calabria 

Harvest time at the Cantina Chiorri Vineyards in Umbria .

Wild flowers and olive tress lining the roads of the mountain side.

Taking an Historical Tour of my home town with the Local Students.

Beautiful Lake Como with my group on our way to Bellaggio

Friday, October 10, 2014

Wine, Food, Music Is there anything better than that?

I am so excited to be adding all new vineyards this year with my tours of Central and Southeren  Italy. I will be traveling with a wine importer and talented musicians. Did I mention I love my job. This year I will be featuring Italian and American musicians on our tours. This idea came to me when I was traveling in an area of Italy called Le Marche. My husband and I were on our 30th wedding  anniversary . Since touring Italy for the past 20 years, I thought it would  be  wonderful to experience somewhere we both had not been. Le Marche does not disappoint. The vineyard was more that I expected. The swimming pool is in the shape of a wine bottle. The structures on the grounds were replicas of  Renaissance Architecture. It was simply beautiful!

There are many music festivals in Italy during the summer. They all seem to be in the town piazza's or in a theater. I found that being on a vineyard and tasting the wines with wonderful meals the only thing missing was music.Since music is a universal language everyone would understand it. I am planning to start this in March of 2015. I am not sure how it will turn out. Ionian Jewel Tours loves to have theme tours. That is what makes your tours fun!. This is not just limited to one vineyard. I also intend to bring my tours to Umbira to Cantina Chiorri where family, hospitality and of course Vino meraviglioso!!! Here is a preview of the tour. Eat, Drink, and be Felice!!!!!!

Le Marche

Tuesday, September 2, 2014


I have been so many places in Italy since I lasted posted that I felt it was the time  to share it with all of you. I want to let everyone know how blessed I feel that my parents gave me the passion I feel for Italy today. If not for them taking us over to visit our little town in Calabria I would not be able to feel that passion not just for my region but for all of Italy.
You must be wondering what makes my tours different. For one thing, did I say PASSION!?
Anyone can visit Italy but in order to really appreciate the country, you must except  all the obstacles that you come across. I take you deep into the heart and soul of the country, offering such excursions as genealogy tours, family tours, yoga tours, Ladies tours and couples tours.
I started this 20 years ago and I am as passionate about it today as I was then. When I say you must deal with obstacles that may come your way I mean such as getting lost on our way to a location because there are no signs or to many signs or maybe the driver does not trust the GPS! Hey that's Italy!. I have been so lucky to be with such wonderful people who are hungry for the culture of the country. Of course, we visit the museums and churches and ruins but we make our stays in local towns where we are free to wonder around and mingle with the townspeople. That is Italy to me.
My trips take you from The Dolomites to The Aeolian Islands in Sicily.
I have to say that all of Italy is beautiful. If you really want to live your dream of Italy consider, please Ionian Jewel Tours .

Places to visit in 2015
North,  Venice, Bologna, Umbria, Rome, Amalfi Coast, Puglia, Basilicata, Calabria, Sicily

Up coming Tours

It has been a long time since I have been on my blog. I usually write about my tours, the places we have seen, things we have done and people I have met along the way.
Now I want to really explain what it means to me when I spend time with the people who come on my tours.

It's not simply about wanting to show them around, I want people to feel, taste, drown in the culture of Italy. I am very passionate about my life as a travel consultant, specifically, to visit Italy ! I thrive on the idea that you should really know how the Italian people live day to day, not just how they live when the tourist are in town!

 I have been so fortunate to have had parents that gave me the passion I feel today. I love sharing  it with everyone. I started my tours about 20 years ago but only going to Calabria and of course a day trip to Taormina Sicily. These were wonderful tours especially since we would really get to know the people in the small town of Soverato. We would swim in the beautiful Ionian Sea and go into different villages at night. Then I expanded to the Amalfi Coast, beautiful right? But as beautiful as it is, I felt that is was too touristy. How would I change that?  I did not seek the most beautiful hotels on the coast but instead I sought out a family hotel. One where you know you are treated like family. Now, I happily take tours to Sorrento and feel at home there just like I do in my home town of Calabria.

Ten years ago, I expanded my tours other regions of Italy. I met locals who were hungry to share their culture with my clients. From the North to the South of Italy, I will introduce you to what real hospitality feels like. My guides are locals who will have you living the Italian life, not just seeing it.
Tours this year will start in May from Sicily to Venice. All you have to do is send me an email at and let me know what you are interested in.

My friend Mimmo,

 In the summer of 2011 my  friend Luciano owner of Hotel San Domenico in Soverato introduced me to one of the most fascinating men in the Calabria. I was greeted  by a small elderly man who was full of energy and danced  he greeted  me at the gate. As we walked through the property we saw miles of pepperoncino plants. I did not know at the time that this was where everyone came to get their pepperoncino. We were taken through miles of pepperoncino fields. He proudly showed us around his property . After many hours of drinking home made wine, eating everything that was grown on the property, and homemade olives (the best you have ever tasted) we were finally told the story of his life and what brought him to this magical place.
I must give you some back ground on Mimmo. He was born into a family of farmers. He had 5 sisters and he is the youngest in the family. In the era that he was growing up in the children did not go to school for long, instead they help the parents continuing the work of the family. It was decided that they youngest child being a boy was going to leave his home and go to College.
  Leaving his beautiful Calabria was devastating  for him.. He went to Milan  , married and became the head or Department of Commerce for the beautiful town of Monza. He lives there with his wife Anna. As we were sitting at dinner with Mimmo he explained to us that he was so fortunate to have had a great life in Milan that he decided to go back to Calabria and pay it forward. He purchased the land and started to grow his own pepperoncino along with olive trees and tomatoes and of course lemons and grapes. So it goes with out saying the best Lemoncello and Wine you have ever tasted is made by Mimmo! The pepperoncino club of Soverato is an organization that Mimmo started. My friends and I are lucky enough to be members. So what does Mimmo do with the pepperoncino? What ever donation he  receives from his pepperoncino he gives to the children that are illiterate and needy. One condition is that the families will not know who he is.
It is no wonder that when I am in Calabria I bring my clients to meet Mimmo and  most become members of the Pepperoncino club of Soverato.

finding famiglia

Genealogy tours has to be one of the most rewarding jobs I have ever had. Walking up to the town halls  in the small little towns from Northern Italy to Southern Italy is amazing. The expression on the peoples faces as they bring out the registers from the 1800's is amazing. Looking down at the signatures of families who registered the dates they were married, birth of their children, and deaths of the loved ones is truly a moving. Once we locate family we stroll through the towns sometimes we find the address of where the house once stood, other times we find just the street. and in some instances we find living relatives. The emotions take over the people and tears of joy stream down there faces. Here they learn about there families and their crafts. From stone cutters , tailors, to pottery makers  and farmers it is amazing how much you learn from our trips to the MUNICIPIO!

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Italy 2012


Family and Friends in Montepaone
A view from my house in Montepaone

                                                                 Camania, Calabria
So here I am again back on my blog to talk about my new adventures while back in my home town of Montepaone. Before going back this year, I signed up my son, his girlfriend Christa, and I for a nature walking through the old water mills and along the streams of the town. Let me just say it was the most wonderful experience and amazing time not just for me but for my son who never really knew the town his mom was born in. All of my childhood memories came back to me as I was jumping on and hopping on one boulder to another. It was here in these places we would go for picnics or my mother and her family would bring us to play while they washed clothes.It was here that we would pick fruit, and nuts off the trees while playing and jumping on the rocks and play near  the olive trees that surround the land . At the end of our nature walk we climbed up a hillside and on to the street where an open back truck was waiting to take us into the country side for the best surprise ever. Women preparing the food while the men brought out the wine, bread, and muraneri (wine biscotts they only make in my town). We sat and ate and drank in the open air and of course we had a musically treat, what else but the mandolin and my son and Christa played and sang for the happy crowd.

Jordan and friends making music.

This is how my journey began . It was  wonderful. As you all know I am a tour facillitator for Italy, so it just so happens that I have a house there now and I no longer have to travel back and forth to the USA. to meet my groups.
 This year my tours started out in the beautiful Hotel San Domenico in Soverato Calabria, From here we traveled to Puglia, such towns as Ostuni, Alberobello, Cesternino, over to Baslicata to Matera, and to Rome . This was in July . (I will write about each town ) Once we arrived in Rome my daughter and her friend Anna meet us and spent the night in Ostia Antica. The next morning my group departed for the States and Anna, my daughter Gabriella and I departed for BELLA CALABRIA.
Gabriella and Anna in Calabria
We had a amazing time swimming in the crystal blue waters of the Ionian Sea. Relaxing was our plan and that is just what we did for the next 10 days. My daughter and Anna departed vowing they would return here every year. Now it just so happens my husband was to arrive in 4 days with my friends the Corazzini's. My job now was to tour Calabria with this couple then move on to Popolli Abruzzo. You see I also do genealogy tours. Upon arriving in Popoli we went over to  the townhall and gave the young lady at the desk our information. BINGO!!!!!just like that she found the family. Fred being happy with just that was ready to leave the next morning. Still not convinced I had done enough I made it a point to take Fred and Edna back to the piazza my husband and I went to the night before. Popoli is a very pretty town and worth a visit. I asked Fred and Edna ,No I told them that I was going to try and find family. It just so happens there was an elderly gentelman sitting on a bench so I went up to him and asked "do you know any Corazzini's?"He pointed up with his cane and told me to go to the bar. Thinking he had no idea what I asked we proceeded with our walk. Then Edna looked at me and said "Nancy the man you just asked about the Corazzini's is looking at you and pointing his cane. I walked over and he said. "That man over there he is a Corazzini." Progress. We found family after all. I was so happy for Fred,the next 2 hours we all spent in the bar were marvelous . You can not imagine the joy they felt finding family.Next we traveled to Cento in search of his mothers side of the family. This area was hit with earthquakes in May of this year. As we walked through the town we knew just by looking at town hall where the records were kept we would not be getting the information we needed. My friend Cinzia who lives in Cento brought us to the cemetery where we searched and searched but no luck. That night we went our for a wonderful meal. Everything we ordered was food that Fred's grandfather made. Fred became emotional and felt the connection inspite of not finding family.
In August I had an other genealogy tour and this was in Sicily. This family did make progress as far as finding out information about there parents and grandparents. No matter where you are from in Italy if you want to find your roots. I can take you there.

 Ionian Jewel Tours and her group toured beautiful Calabria, we visited the towns of Gerace, Stillo, Scilla, . When we are in Calabria we stay at the Hotel San Domenico in beautiful Soverato.
This hotel is located on the beach and has a beautiful walk way leading you into the pretty town.
After a few days we departed for the area of Puglia and Baslicata. Along the way we stopped in the town of Specchiolla where my friend Phyllis once lived with her husband and children while he was
Fred finding family in Popoli in the military. It changed a lot in 30 years. 

From there we settled into our Turlli in the province of Brindisi. Here we visited the towns of Cesternino, Oustuni, Alberobello, and in Baslicata we visited the town of Matera, We had a wonderful time each night dining  at Tonia's local trattoria . This region is know for it's wonderful cuisine of  legumes , oreccheto  pasta and good wine! From here we departed for one night in Rome before returning to the states. We had a wonderful dinner in Ostia Antica and of course some good wine. I said good bye to my friends and departed for Calabria. They left for the States.

Fred finding family in Popoli.
The friend that helped find Family
Fred - Home
 Ionian Jewel Tours committed herself to a genealogy tour. My friends Edan and Fred along with my husband came to Calabria in August. We stayed 7 days at the San Domenico Hotel. Every day we would make our way to the market for our lunch that we would prepare in Montepaone. It his here the Fred fell in love with Italy ,  we would walk down to my land and pick the fresh figs right off the tree and ate them as we walked. We had fun reminiscing about our childhood and how our families enjoyed the simple life. This is what Montepaone is to me. Simplicity is what Montepaone is to me.
When we would leave Montepaone we would go back to the hotel and just relax on the beautiful Ionian Coast. One of the days we went to a  wine tasting in Riace which is where you will only find organic wines.
After 7 days we depart for Abruzzo and you all ready know how that ended.
EDNA "Ciao"

Fred picking grapes

We made our way to the Cantina Chiorri where we were able to observe the harvest. It was a wonderful 4 days.
One of the most moving places was Nettuno (Anzio) the American Cemetery dedicated to our brave hero's . Visiting this beautiful memorial , one can not help but feel proud and humble. It is a must see when you are in the Rome area.

Geneaology tour  Sicily.
We drove to the Province of Agrigento in search of family in Aragona. We did not find living relatives but did manage to get some family records. We stayed in a lovely B&B  where  Carmelina prepared the best breakfast and dinners. From here we visited the towns of Sciacca, Agrigento, Piazza Amerina. There is so much history that  one can spend a life time and keep discovering new places.
From here we travel to Syracusa. Our hotel was a 15th century  villa .We visited towns such as Ortigia, Modica, Taormina, and fell in love with it all.

 I had a very busy summer . Going back to my  house in Montepaone is the most relaxing part of my summer. I do love all of Italy and will continue to take my clients where ever they may want to go .