October 7, 2015

High School Reunion in Tuscany

I really enjoyed working with this group of friends that chose Tuscany as the destination for their reunion. Former high school classmates gathered from 4 different US cities and got the chance to introduce their spouses and reminisce. It didn't take long for everyone to gel and the fun to begin.  
Thank you, David,  for writing such a thorough review of your experience. It was a pleasure meeting you all!  - Kathy


Eight of us recently spent about two weeks in Florence and Tuscany, and had what was a memorable trip. Much of the credit for this goes to Kathy Perunic and New Tuscan Experience. I began working with Kathy in February of this year planning the itinerary for the trip. Kathy listened to me (all of us, really… I was the voice) and put together an itinerary for the group for the time in Florence and Chianti. There was a lot of back and forth over several months before arriving at the final schedule for the week. 

We found the villa in Tuscany fairly quickly with Kathy’s help, and it turned out to be as advertised, and perfect for the group. One of the things that stood out throughout this process was Kathy’s intimate understanding of the area, and the fact that she was American and spoke English, which sounds silly, but made it so much easier. There was really no detail that was too small for her attention. She did not just focus on the big stuff because the devil is really in the details, and trips can be made or unmade by the small things that go right or wrong. She clearly gets that.

Kathy met us on arrival in Florence and took us on a walking introduction to the city, then joined us for dinner. A great way to start. It made a new and unfamiliar place (to most of us) far more familiar. We then spent two days in Florence focusing on the history, art and architecture of the city. Kathy arranged for two guides (Joanna and Helen); one focusing on the city at large, and the other on the Uffizi and the art. Both were spectacularly good at what they do and absolutely made those two days meaningful. We came away with an understanding of Florence and the artistic traditions of the city that I do not think many other visitors achieve.


Our driver for the week, Simone, met us at the hotel on Saturday and took us to the villa outside of Florence where we settled in. Simone was perfect. Always cheerful, careful on the roads which seemed rare, and an excellent guide. Each day he showed up at 8, ready for the day. How he got into and out of some pretty tight spots in the hilltop towns of Tuscany I will never know, but he did.

The week was varied with something planned for each day. Most of it involved food and wine, but not all. Again, the guide (Antonella) that worked with us on three of the days was outstanding. Very knowledgeable, great sense of humor, and quite Italian which we all enjoyed. Without her we would not have come away with the depth of understanding we achieved. We also would not have found the good gelaterias.  


Kathy scheduled us for a couple of wineries each day on several of the days and always made sure that they were different from each other. One large, one smaller. Invariably, we preferred the smaller, more intimate option. One of them in Montalcino, Poggio Rubino, was the highlight of the trip. The guide, Anthony (an American!) was the best….so entertaining, but also so full of knowledge and so able to convey how the area surrounding the vineyards was going to create the wine in the end. We way overstayed there, but we just could not leave. Lunch was served on a beautiful patio/pavilion, and the wines were excellent.


Finally, the chefs for the week. We decided to have chefs (Leonardo, Monica, and Stefania) come in each night to make dinner in the Villa, and it was a perfect choice. I recommend that to anyone considering a stay. They made beautiful Tuscan food each night after talking it through with the group in advance, were personable, and became something that we all looked forward to. We did not have to think about what to do for dinner after being out and about all day.

Were there problems during the week? Yes, but so small that I am having trouble remembering what they were now. Kathy took care of most of them, and followed up on the others to make sure they do not repeat. If planning is a strength of hers, follow up is no less important and she does it so well. 

We would work with New Tuscan Experience again in a heartbeat, and I have a feeling we will have that chance. Something to look forward to. 

David H. - Washington, D.C. 


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