Viaggio di Maggio 2020
In the fall of 2018, Colleen and Ridge and a bunch of our club members went on a cruise up the Inside Passage in Alaska.
We learned two things from that trip: (1) we’re not “cruise” people; and (2) we really enjoy spending time with our club members — you’re interesting, interested, and fun!
As we thought about what to do next, clearly a cruise wasn’t on the list — especially because our foundation is Italian and the cruise options in Italy are not great. But then we had an inspiration…
As you know, the Italian roots of DaVero run deep. Twenty-nine years ago, Ridge returned from Tuscany with cuttings from the 800 year-old olive trees of Fattoria Mansi Bernardini. Those cuttings became the olive groves of DaVero, and the metaphorical pebble dropped in the pond of life that has rippled out to create DaVero today.
To celebrate the 30th(!) anniversary of that seminal moment, we thought, “What better than to return to the farm?” And thus emerged Viaggio di Maggio (literally, “trip in May” — but doesn’t it sound so much better in Italian?)
We’ve stayed in close touch with the family that has owned the Fattoria for over 600 years, and watched as they have transformed it into a spectacular agritourismo. It’s in a perfect location in the hills just to the east of the amazing town of Lucca, making all of Tuscany and other nearby provinces easy day trips. And, we have a startling amount of direct local knowledge across our team (for example, club manager Barbara Fitzgerald’s family is from Lucca).
We’re limiting the group to just 20 club members (plus significant others), along with 11 people from DaVero. This will allow us to break into small parties, heading out each day to carefully curated destinations including wineries too small to be exported, amazing biodynamic farms, off-the-beaten-path walks in some of the coolest small villages, lunches at hidden restaurant gems, daily cycling trips (on really good road bikes), and local farmers markets from which we will build our whole-group, family-style dinners. (Click here to see a sample itinerary…)
The kitchen of the Fattoria is fully up to the task of blowing us away meal after meal. But we will augment that incredibly capable team with our very own Chef Colleen McGlynn and our great friend, Chef Loretta Keller. One never leaves the table in Italy hungry, but this will set a whole new baseline!
The whole idea is to give you a sense of the true magic of Italy — not the tourist dash, but an in-depth, patient exploration from which you’ll come away transformed (as all of us at DaVero have been).
Italy. Tuscany. Lucca. Farm. Food. Wine. Olive oil.
What are the dates?
We ask that everyone arrive at the Fattoria on Wednesday, May 13, 2020. We will disband on Friday, May 22.
What is the cost?
The cost is $6,000 per person, based on double-occupancy.
Half is due at the time you reserve, with the other half due in mid-January of 2020.
All payments are non-refundable unless we find a replacement from the waitlist (which of course we will try to do), in which case you will receive a full refund.
Pretty much everything: lodging, meals, transportation (including pickup/drop-off at the airports in Pisa and Florence). The only thing that isn’t included is airfare, but we are working with a very good consolidator to secure business class out of SFO (and, potentially, JFK); just let us know if you want to participate (note that you can fly in earlier, and leave later, if you want to extend your trip).
What’s the deadline for signing up?
Basically, now. We only have room for 20 members, roughly half of which is already committed. When it’s sold out, it’s sold out.
If you miss the cutoff, though, you’re welcome to go on the waiting list.
What are the accomodations like?
In a word? Wonderful.
The Fattoria is simply stunning, on a gentle slope well above the Tuscan plain that offers amazing vistas. There are rooms in the original villa, in the B&B (a converted farm building from the 1400s), and in the several amazing houses scattered about the property. There are a number of nice (but unheated) swimming pools, all with great views, and a tennis court.
We’ll handle the room assignments, and will do our best to accommodate special requests.
Should we rent a car?
You’re welcome to, but it won’t be necessary. We’ll have a fleet of vans and minibuses to squire us around the countryside.
How do we sign up for the day trips?
We’ll send out details as we get closer. But not to worry: each will happen on multiple days, to make sure everyone gets a chance to do pretty much everything. And, on a couple of days we’ll travel as a full group — for example, to go into Firenze and tour the Uffizzi.
Can I just hang out?
Of course! The day trips promise to be terrific, but so is the Fattoria.
What should I wear?
Hey – this is DaVero we’re talking about here.
Above all, be comfortable. We will be walking a fair amount, so comfortable shoes are a must. And, it’ll probably rain at some point, so a good rain jacket and shoes that’ll tolerate getting wet should find their way into your bag. It’s likely we’ll enter into a church or two at some point as well; they tend to frown on short-shorts and bare shoulders.
On average, May is one of the absolute best months to visit Tuscany. Everything is lush, rain is (usually) scarce, and temperatures range from the low 50s at night to the nid 70s during the day.
Can I bring friends? Kids?
Unfortunately, no; the group is limited to two people per club membership.
What’s the meal schedule?
There will be a classic Italian breakfast (coffee & tea; juice; pastries; antipasti) at the Fattoria each morning. Each group will have lunch “on the road” wherever they are, typically in a small trattoria that locals don’t tell tourists about…
Dinner will be in the Dining Room at the Fattoria (which can seat 90 people!). We will be eating very close to the ground and the sea, with each day’s dinner emerging from that day’s market.
And yes, wines are included!
Speaking of wine, can I buy some on the trip?
Absolutely! (We certainly will…) Many of the small wineries have a government-subsidized shipping program to make it easy, but for those that don’t we’re working with a consolidator to allow us to bring all the wine back to the US together, which we will then ship out to you.