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One of our favorite days of the trip…the surprise for the group!

We began by enjoying breakfast at Agriturismo Villanova before loading everyone up into the vans and heading to the train station!

From the sounds of the group, their guesses were a cooking class on pesto, a trip to Genoa or a day at the beach.

We took the train from Levanto to Camogli, an untapped seaside town that was most assuredly “off the beaten path”. It offered beachfront views, countless shops, a marina and restaurants as far as the eye could see.

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Everyone was pleasantly surprised!

Free time allowed tour members to pick up additional souvenirs and enjoy an afternoon gelato. What could be better?

We met up for a seafood lunch that will not soon be forgotten. Mussels in white wine with garlic and olive oil began our feast! Rosemary had never even tried them before and she ate her whole bowl!

Next up, guests had the choice of spaghetti with clams or a regional lasagna dish that was made with crispy outsides (similar to phyllo dough..but not!) and potato & green beans inside. In between, a delicious pesto!

Most of our group chose a food buddy so they could try both meals!

Our meal was, of course, paired with a crisp white wine. And not to be forgotten…the gelato for dessert!

It’s safe to say that gelato has become a staple in everyone’s diet.

As soon as lunch was finished, we all boarded the train back to Levanto for the second part of the surprise–a pesto making class!

Val was quite excited, because this was one of her original guesses as to what we might be doing today!

After we left downtown Levanto, we headed to Dave & Rynn’s apartment high in the hills of Cinque Terre. Chef Dave made a feast compiled of all the foods we enjoyed along la passeggiata.

As a closing to our meal, we went around the group and shared our favorite parts of the tour.

Trish–I loved being in the company of so many wonderful people. What a superior job Dave and Rynn have done. The experiences you have been able to give us is second to none. Everything is incredible. Could I have had these experiences anywhere else? Absolutely not. My favorite part was Tuscany.

Shari–In general, my favorite thing is the day I met Dave & Rynn.  When Rynn told me about the trips, I fell in love immediately. I always wanted to go to Italy; I told her right then and there I was going. It’s hard to say a favorite thing, but meeting all the artisans was amazing. The passion of the people is incomparable.

Rosemary–I’ve met a lot of people, but this has been the top. Meeting other mothers of gay children was a definitely highlight. Eating foods I would never put in my mouth was amazing. I loved making the pizza in the pizza shop.

Cynthia–This has been the experience of a lifetime for me. Maybe in another life I lived in Italy. Meeting people with similar kindred spirits is so incredible. Finding others with culinary passion is so wonderful. I truly hope to be traveling with this group again.

Rachel–My favorite thing about the trip was the entire group. Being able to connect as a group and individually has been very meaningful to me. Mike and I have never, ever in 20 years of married life have never wanted to take a group trip, because we thought we could do it on our own. This trip has been so gratifying and worth it. This wasn’t a tour, it was a series of adventures.

Mike–We’ve never traveled with anyone other than ourselves, because we never wanted to hit the tourist traps. We always thought we could do better ourselves, but we could never do better than you guys. We knew Rynn & Dave for an hour and booked our trip. Best moment? Walking into Dario’s and being given wine and standing against the wall and just being part of the whole scene. The trip just kept getting better–one moment after another.

Susan–My favorite moment was when we were at Laura’s and I walked up to Fillipo’s mother’s yard and she came out, she showed us her garden. We didn’t speak the same language, but she welcomed us to her home and it was wonderful. That moment when we connected–I was truly in Italy.

Sylvia–This trip was just..the best! The first morning at Laura’s the girls were eating figs off the tree and I tried it. I thought my whole life I didn’t like them, and I LOVED it! I’m going to go home and tell my daughter–she has to go on this trip.

MaryLou–I really thought everything was special. You went out and sought out all the best things. Yesterday when we were in the Cinque Terre and saw all these tours with huge groups and flags–that’s not us at all. Today was extra special–you thought out something that was especially tailored to us. It was fantastic.

Val–I say ditto to everything that everyone has said. Going on that ferry yesterday and then being down on those streets and eating cheeseburgers–you don’t even know there are cheeseburgers down there! Plus, I learned to use my iPhone!

Vicki–The first time I saw the Grand Canyon, I burst into tears. I had about four or five of those moments on this trip, but this trip has been very special. Everyone here, the food and wine–everything here.

Liz–I know Dave says when you go back to the USA you’ll do things different, but I truly believe this trip changed my life. New food, fashion, trying to communicate with others in a different language. I even bought dangle earrings!

MaryAnn–It’s so difficult to pick one thing. My sister and I grew up this way, but to come here, there’s such a connection with the earth, the food and the people. There’s just so much–I wouldn’t be able to say just one thing. Rynn & Dave are great. Tours were never my thing, but this is beyond what a normal tour is. You have to internalize that to realize what an experience this is. Your passion is contagious–everyone in Italy shares that. You’ve inspired my sister and I to come and experience this place for a couple months at a time.

It has been amazing to connect with each other, hear each others stories and truly make memories–a very apparent theme in each of the speeches this evening.

“If you are inspired by something–go toward that. If we can leave you with anything from this trip, it’s that you need to follow your passion. La passeggiata is the opportunity for us to share our passion with you.” –Rynn Caputo

 

View all the photos (in a much larger size) from our trip so far HERE. Updated tonight 🙂