women tours in southern italyWhy are women important?

Anyone could answer the question “Why are women important?” by responding with a host of diverse reasons such as “Women take care of our children,” or “Women are there when we need them,” or “Women are our sisters, mothers, our aunts.”

But for us, the reason women are important is more profound and heartfelt: Women know how to give you the boost you need in order to realize your full potential. They help you understand what you are truly capable of!

Of course, we know we shouldn’t stereotype—lumping everything and everyone together here—but what we have learned, and are still trying to comprehend on a deeper level, comes from the time we have spent over the last two years with the series of wonderful guests we’ve hosted during our small group tours for women.

Traveling women

From our experience with this brilliant women, we can state that an open-minded, open-to-adventure woman always knows how to get the most out of life!

Very often these women have experienced failure, sorrow, have broken free from the shadow of overbearing parents, or that of our patriarchal society. Very often they have even escaped the self-esteem-shattering mantra “who do I need to be in order to deserve his/her love?!?” They have overcome the emotional shadow comprising the vast array of societal rules regarding what is required of a human being to warrant affection of others and to earn their rightful place on the earth.

They have found a permanent center of gravity, paraphrasing the famous Italian singer-songwriter Franco Battiato. Often a horrible, or perhaps, a beautiful experience has set them on the path leading to a realization of their full potential and, just as exciting, these things have served as a catalyst for travelling and meeting the world!

That’s why we love women and why we have created a women-only small group tour project: to learn from our female guests how to realize our own potential!

During our last Easter tour, we hosted two amazing women, Susa, a poetess, and Robin a huge fan of sculpture. Deeply sensitive and with a keen eye on the cultural and social side of things, they have given us a different perspective regarding our own territory. We would now like to share these new viewpoints with you via the words of Susa, who also writes a delightful blog which we strongly urge you to visit.

As you can read in her Meet Susawebpage, she is “a poet first, and many things besides, including massage therapist, teacher, dementia-care social worker and certified poetry therapist” who set herself on a 2-month journey through Italy and Greece to discover her roots: her Gramma’s Papa worked in Bari (Puglia).

MATERA AND ITS SASSI

women tours in MateraWe started our tour in the Unesco World Heritage Site of Matera (in Basilicata)—here is how she describes her experience:

“The rock-cut dwellings of Matera in southern Italy run along the edges of the deep ravine furrowed by the Gravina River in the middle of the Murgia plateau. The

small groups tour in Matera

caverns and grottoes on the limestone gorge have provided habitation for humans since the Paleolithic era. The dwellings are known as Sassi, meaning ‘Stones’. […] Human life appears to have been going on non-stop on the site for at least 35,000 years. […]

“This haunting place called the Sassi in Matera has evoked in me a deep sense of wonder and awe. In one of the cave “churches” (pagan temple might be a more accurate), some of us could intensely sense the spiritual energy of the past. Time, as we now know, all depends on where you are standing in the universe. I felt as if I could move s step or two to one side and be present in the time-space of these long ago ancestors. Through the flimsy curtain of time,  it seemed I could feel the warmth of their altar fire, and hear it crackling as they gathered for ceremony.”

THE WONDERS OF WINE

wine tours in southern italy for small groupsAnother highlight of our last tour was a guided exhibition dedicated to our local peasant culture in a highly-acclaimed museum of wine and culture.

Here you have Susa’s words describing it:

“I’m a newbie to wine and wine-making, so my take on all of it was with the delight of beginner’s mind.

Primitivo is a variety of red grape grown across Puglia that is principally at home in the Salento, an area where vineyards are widely planted to it and where it “performs splendidly!” […] Its cherry-scented bouquet often contains sour and black cherry and sometimes even raspberry.  Some types of soil will give it a spiciness containing pepper and liquorice as well as hints of Mediterranean vegetation.

small groups tours in Puglia

“I was heartened to learn this magnificent production facility has been successfully owned by a cooperative of farmers, aka, vinters, since 1932, and is the oldest active wine cooperative in Puglia. The wine I tasted at the end of the tour got us singing!

Here Elena, one of the Heart of Southern Italy tour leaders, and I are helping each other remember the lyrics to Volare, a song made famous by Domenico Modugno of Puglia in 1955. I highly recommend their tour company!”

LECCE AND ITS LEGACY

And a guided tour of Lecce left Susa thinking about legacy…

small groups tours in Puglia - Lecce“Lecce is an ancient city. In the Roman era, the she-wolf gave the city its name, Lupiae and later, the towering holm oak, ilex, conferred its name; so the grand crest of Lecce, seen here in the center of the main piazza, includes both wolf and oak tree.

“Today in a historical and archaeological building of the Faggiano family, I saw evidence of a time span of 2000 years. […] Time travel here in Lecce gives rise to thoughts of both human impermanence and human lineage. We who live now are as evanescent as those who lived in all these other times. Poof! An age is past. And, we who live now are the recipients of all the stories of the ages that passed before, as our descendants will be our beneficiaries. We stand between the past and future,  fully responsible for our legacy. Feel your own ancestors behind you, gifting you with life. Sense your own descendants, whether of the heart or of the body, reaching out their hands to you, asking for continuity. Be the loving link.”

How can we not love women when they are capable of, as Susa has for us, deeply affecting the world through which they pass by means of their caring and loving thoughts and words?!?small groups cooking tours in Apulia

Our Easter tour went on with the Processione dei Misteri (Procession of the Mysteries) in Taranto, a cooking class focused on the specialties of the region’s cucina povera (rustic cuisine), an Easter Sunday spent by the seaside feasting on a freshly-caught lunch offered by a fourth-generation fisherman and marine biologist-cum-restauranteur specialized in sustainable and traditional fishing practices. We ended the day dancing in an olive grove surrounded by traditional local music, splendidly performed by a lively and popular band from the area!

When Tess and I travel we love discovering out-of-the-way tasty bites of culture you are not likely to see or experience anywhere else. We collect and organize these delights in a logical manner in order to offer our guests a  true, one-of-a-kind experience. Our payback comes from knowing YOU will be a one-of-a-kind experience for us!