italy blog journal – part 1…

italy1

they say the journey is the destination, and i absolutely agree! for the last 2 weeks we’ve been on our artful adventure in italy with 50 amazing friends so let me start off by saying a sincere heartfelt thank you to everyone who joined this journey.  this is one of those trips that i am honestly having trouble putting into words – it was simply that incredible.  italy has always been on my wish list of places i wanted to go, and let me tell you it was beyond everything i imagined.  this adventure in tuscany was made possible by the “fabulous” jim west (owner of scrapmap) who planned this whole expedition.  when we started planning the itinerary over a year ago, i told jim i wanted us to have the ultimate italy experience.  i wanted to do it all, see the sights, learn the history, visit wineries, eat delicious food, even take a cooking class, whatever we could take in, we did it all.  so over the next few days i’ll be sharing my blog journal with the highlights of our travels – enjoy the journey…

10/19: the group arrived in pisa and were met by jim at the airport to board our private motor coach for the trip.  they made the drive to our deluxe hotel, the “grand hotel la pace” located in the charming town of montecatini terme where mario and i were there to greet them…

italygroupmontecatini

this 5 star grand hotel la pace was wonderful, full of vintage style and charm, with each room unique and completely different from the next.  i really wanted a place that was unique to be our home away from home, and this hotel was perfect, like something out of a movie.  i loved the gated entrance, the surrounding garden grounds, and the beautiful views.  the lobby was certainly grand with lots of places to relax and enjoy the architecture and decor.  we were greeted each day by the  big smile of the concierge sergio who was so nice.  this stunning hotel had the most incredible spiral marble staircase leading up to each floor.  our room was spectacular complete with fabric covered walls, vintage furnishings, sparkling chandelier, and a stone terrace, it was perfect…

hotel1 hotel2

10/20: we started each morning sharing breakfast together in our own private dinning room at the hotel before embarking on our daily adventure.  today following breakfast was the first session of the “master class” i designed exclusively for this trip, and this was our “classroom” can you believe it?  cathedral ceilings with painted frescos illuminated by massive chandeliers – pinch me, i must be dreaming…

classroom

back in september we shipped out kits to all of the students in their very own “valise” that mario worked on for over a month.  each valise was filled to the top with papers, embellishments, tools, and everything else they would need for their master class sessions (well almost everything, i still had a few surprises in store for them).  the first surprise was this custom distress palette pad from ranger designed exclusively for this trip.  this pad contained 4 individual ink pad compartments of the colors i selected, everyone was thrilled to get this one of a kind distress ink pad (well 50 of a kind actually), and we were happy to unload all 50 we brought in our suitcase…

classstuff

the master class began with an introduction to the students about my inspiration for this project.  we were going to be creating a journal of our adventure, not just a journal to fill with photos and memories after the trip, but a journal to capture the daily experience.  i shared with them 3 simple words that i wanted them to have on their mind throughout our journey….

“remember the now”

i explained to them that as someone who has traveled to many places in the world one of my regrets has been not making the time to truly experience where i was or what i was doing…to “remember the now”.  instead my focus was on the daily tasks at hand, the itinerary planned,  you know the big moments of the trip, all along missing out on the little details that make the experience memorable.  this reminder to take time to capture the details as they were living it whether it was collecting business cards from places they shopped, gathering a leaf from a vineyard they were in, or saving a sugar packet from a cafe they loved, it was all about being in that place at that moment.  it made me smile every time i heard the words “i’m remembering the now” from students throughout our trip…

classproject

we unpacked our kits and got to work cutting papers for our page pockets, distressing, inking with layering stencils, and assembling the structure of our worn covers for the journal.  then i shared ideas for creating various flip pages, fold out pages, hidden pockets, and journaling ideas to prepare the perfect foundation for it all.  the ideas began to exchange with the students working away on creating their own personal journal to tell their story and capture their “now” experiences…

classes

after lunch it was time to board our private motor coach – destination: the famous leaning tower of pisa.  we arrived there with a couple of hours to take photos, see the sights, and even some of us were ambitious enough to climb the 294+ marble steps each way to go to the top of the tower (let me just say it was totally worth it)…

pisa

that night we returned to our hotel and decided to go out as a group to dinner high atop the mountain in the village of montecatini alto.  to get to the top of the mountain we all experienced riding the funicolare as it ascended up a single track with breathtaking views of the town of montecatini terme below.  we strolled the narrow streets of this village, visited shops, had a wonderful italian dinner, and returned back down the mountain with a late night stroll back to our hotel.  an amazing first day of our adventure, wouldn’t you say?…

funicolaremontecatinialto

10/21: we woke to dark stormy skies after a night of flickering lightening and clashes of thunder that rattled the thin paned windows of our hotel rooms.  after breakfast we boarded our coach – destination: san gimignano.  this ancient hilltop village was quite the setting for the most insane storm i have ever experienced.  nevertheless our group was ready for adventure as we made our way up the steep cobblestone streets against the rushing waters of the rain.  the thunder and lightening was so loud yet thrilling – i felt like it was something out of a harry potter movie.  the weather didn’t stop us from visiting the various shops and making our way back to the coach to dry off and make our way to our first winery tour for lunch…

sangimignano

we arrived at the family owner san donato winery (our first of 3 wineries throughout or trip).  this quaint winery was actually a medieval village that the family purchased to run it as a full time farm and winery.  due to the storm that day, our lunch which would have normally been in one of the wine cellars, had to be moved into their house for all 50 of us.  it was truly a memorable day and a delicious lunch of meats, cheeses, olives, peppers, bread, and of course unlimited wine as we stumbled back on the coach to head back to our hotel for the evening…

sandonatowinery sandonatolunch

10/22: this morning the sun was shining illuminating the blue sky.  after breakfast we boarded our coach – destination: the historic town of sienna.  upon arrival we met our tour guide federica who guided us on an informative tour through the town of sienna and the church of santa dominico.  we strolled through the streets from piazza to piazza until we arrived at the piazza del campo which is the site of the famous medieval-style biannual horse race.  we had time to shop  and enjoy a great lunch on our own – we had the best caprese salad, pizza (oh and great italian beer)…

siennaitalyus

we returned to our hotel for a group dinner, and then it was time for our evening session of the master class – more on that tomorrow.  pretty amazing so far…t!m

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201 Comments to “italy blog journal – part 1…”

  1. Alice Hutson says:

    Next tour you take like this, please photograph the meals as they are delivered.

  2. Maura says:

    Love this! What a wonderful journey.

  3. What an experience and a true taste of Tuscany. Great pics and all the food and superb architecture.
    The Customised Tuscan Distress pad is perfect and you’ve just got to retail it for everyone to share… and the stamps too.
    Jo

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