Dear Compass Travelers,

Today, I share some thoughts from longtime Compass traveler Pam Broadley who joined us in Piemonte this past fall. During the two weeks we spent in Italy, Pam kept a daily journal, which is excerpted here. You can read Pam’s full travelogue in our newsletter section, Journeys.

“Another trip to Italy?” friends and family ask. I first visited Italy just out of college to track down the museums and works of art memorized for my art history classes. I’ve long since graduated from back packs, foreign train stations and pensiones, those small family rooming houses with dubious plumbing. Instead, I go to Italy with Holly and Luigi knowing that I’ll have a spectacular vacation eating at fabulous restaurants, staying in charming hotels, and having plenty of time and freedom to soak up what I love about this country—the beauty, the flowers, the food, the long lunches with wine and water bottles scattered across the table, the way the architecture and landscape blend in perfect harmony, the people, so generous and welcoming. Dare I say the shopping?  The treasures—how can one country have so many?  The expressiveness of this place…

Day One: Villa Beccaris is perched above the town of Monforte D’Alba in the middle of Barolo and Barbaresco wine country. Marco, our affable tour guide, tells us that the grape harvest is two weeks late this year due to a cold, rainy June. So, we get to see tightly packed cones of plumy grapes weighing the vines. We are treated to lunch in a glass conservatory overlooking vineyards, hill towns and in the distance, the Alps. Lunch includes fresh squeezed blood oranges and a salad bar with impossibly fresh, crisp vegetables, great antidotes to jet lag. Oh, and the wine that says, “you are back in Italy.”

Day Five: I think this was my favorite day in Piemonte! We travel to the Alta Langhe to meet two food artisans. Leaving the vineyards behind, we drive through forests, villages and high meadows to the town of Borgomale. The bus drops us off on a narrow road and we walked until coming to a round, hand painted sign hanging from a tree: “Formaggi di Pecora a Latte Crudo,” loosely translated as “raw sheep milk cheese.”  There, we meet Silvio Pistone, a handsome farmer who fashions delectable cheese from his small flock of Langhan sheep.

Day Eight: We arrive at Hotel Cannero, and I have the sense that this place has been waiting for me to return. The lake is placid, the air is balmy, and the mountains rise up just as dramatically as I remember. The Hotel feels like an old friend, and I run around reacquainting myself with the beautifully appointed spaces. The staff is familiar, too—the same daughter-in-law in the wine cellar, the same Maitre d’ with his mischievous antics, the same dignified son at the front desk, and the same watchful mother. My room overlooks the courtyard fountain with a balcony facing the lake. From here I can watch the day unfold.

Thank you, Pam, for sharing your personal experiences on one of our escorted tours. As we turn the calendar to 2014, we look forward to many more wonderful adventures with our clients. Check our site often for updates – We are planning a fabulous sojourn to Portugal and we are happy to collaborate again with Words in Play for a wild west adventure in Wyoming! Stay tuned…

Happy Holidays from Holly and Luigi!