Reflections on an amazing journey

Mary, the author

It’s quite amazing just how much ground can be covered in just 15 short days.  By my humble estimation, we covered over 2300km not including excursions, just the distances between stopovers.  Sicily wins with some 740 km of road traveled followed by Puglia with 540 km.  We sure put some mileage on that bus!
 
We weren’t blessed with the best weather at the start of the tour but that didn’t stop us or even dampen the enthusiasm.  In fact, the rain added a lovely element to some of our stops, the most memorable for me being the visit to Basilisco and the wonderful lunch that followed.  It was supposed to be outside but torrential rains chased us indoors and instead we dined in the cantina among the barriques in low light while rivulets of rain were trickling in and drops of condensation fell on us from above.  The winemaker Vivian was a perfect host and Maria a fabulous cook.  It was a truly delightful experience.
 
Before this trip I had spent time in Puglia and was familiar with it however I had never been to Calabria nor Sicily.  I had envisioned a dry arid rocky desert-like panorama for both.  Instead, I was treated to beautiful green rolling hills, orange and olive orchards as far as the eye could see and an ocean whose beauty could bring tears to one’s eyes.
 
I was a wine tour virgin before embarking on this adventure.  Even though I had the privilege of some “insider information” prior to departure, nothing could have prepared me for this experience.  Not only did I have the opportunity to meet some wonderful, dynamic, like-minded people (that is, those who love Italy, love wine and know that Antonio delivers a first rate experience), but I was offered the opportunity to see and taste more than I could have imagine in those 15 days.  I can say with confidence that Antonio pours is heart and soul into the planning and preparation of each of his tours, always conscious of his clients’ desires and expectations.  This was no different.  We were spoiled with fabulous accommodations, delicious and ample authentic foods, breathtaking excursions and last but not least an impressive variety of southern Italian wineries from large scale plants to coops to small family operations.  At many of our stops, we even had the luxury of meeting the winemakers themselves, ask them questions, sample their products and, best of all, feel the overwhelming passion they have for their craft.

From buffalo mozzarella to chocolate from Modica, ruins in Pompeii to temples in Taormina, and from the charming Villa Schinosa to the impressive Tormaresca we covered it all! And now, as we all bathe in the afterglow sifting through our pictures, it’s hard not to start fantasizing about the next trip.
— Mary Arnold
Mary Arnold