Two of the best hidden gems in the festival event world that I like to shout about from the rooftops are the annual Tuscan Sun Festival (which will not be occurring this year) and its sister counterpart that will occur on July 12-21, 2013 known as the Napa Valley Festival del Sole. Basically, I cannot find a single thing wrong with an annual cultural event where guests are experiencing gastronomy in the highest degree paired with delicious wines and enjoying theater and musical performances. There are various package options including VIP dinners, practicing yoga in vineyards, attending opera and dance galas. This year’s star lineup includes Tony award winning Audra McDonald (who was last seen in Broadway’s Porgy and Bess), renowned tenor Vladimir Galouzine, jazz guitarist Brian Nova, the great violinist Sarah Chang and the list of talent goes on. In such a breathtaking natural setting, guests will also have the option to attend a wellness series which outlines breakthroughs in medical research and how to maintain proper health.
If you manage to have additional days in Napa Valley consider horseback riding and visiting local sites such as Castello di Amorosa and wine caves. Indulge at one of the elite resorts in the vicinity and enjoy spa treatments under the Napa skies or take the wine train where not only do you sample wines, but enjoy picturesque views of vineyards whisking by while riding in a vintage car.
Just a short distance from the Bay area, Concierge & Events by Victoria will create your one of a kind travel experiences in Napa as well as offer other lifetime experiences such as riding in a blimp over the Golden Gate Bridge or VIP private access to Alcatraz.
While Florence will not be hosting the Tuscan Sun Festival one should note that in years past, visitors have found veal roast in truffle crust, Bach, grape stomping, John Malkovich, Tony Bennett, and some of the world’s greatest musicians performing. A dream location for event planning, weddings, and luxury lifestyle experiences, Concierge & Events by Victoria will be providing access to attend all the festivities and special VIP access to one of a kind historic tours during the travel stay for 2014. As always attendees should expect a gala dinner, Michelin star chefs and gastronomy experiences with exceptional wines while listening to opera, classical music or jazz. Throughout the festival dates, guests can attend workshops and interact with local artisans. No doubt guests will spot celebrities such as Cecelia Bartoli, Sophia Loren, and Anthony Hopkins who have attended or headlined in years past. Additionally, expect to watch critically acclaimed films and documentaries.
This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t visit one of my favorite cities because there is plenty to do here. If you opt not to stay at the glorious five star St. Regis (formerly The Grand Hotel) or Westin Excelsior in Florence, then consider exquisite villa rentals. Once you’ve established where you will rest after a full day and night of eating, gazing and dancing, you may be thinking of where might you get your hands on your own personal truffle. Consider your very own hunt – complete with a dog or pig where you will engage in the art of truffle hunting – you are in Firenze after all! The work won’t stop there because you’ll learn to cook and enjoy an exquisite lunch or dinner with a Michelin star chef possibly in a castle hosted by nobility. Another option is to hunt down your own dinner and join the local boar hunt. Once you’ve caught your prize a sumptuous feast will await back at the castle you and your guests have rented for the week.
So now that you have mastered Italian culinary lessons it may be time to shop for exquisite silk garments, a sharp fedora and leather accessories – which can be customized for your particular taste. If shopping can wait then feel the renaissance vibe of the palazzos, piazzas, and meditate your way to the Boboli Gardens commissioned in the sixteenth century by the powerful iconic Medici dynasty. Gaze upon Botticelli’s masterful artwork such as the Birth of Venus and Michelangelo’s David. Create a special Renaissance itinerary in which guests will visit the most significant work of Michelangelo at Uffizi Gallery and the Medici Chapels as examples. The tour cannot be complete without special VIP access to the underground tunnels of the Medici clan often used to not only get around the city quickly, but also as a point of espionage known as the Vasari Corridor. Hidden away guests can expect to view great masters – Rubens, Velázquez, and Chagall just for starters.
Next time I’ll take you on the journey to Venice – home of masquerade balls, more opulent culinary feats, glassblowing lessons, Peggy Guggenheim Museum, gondolas, and the Venice Film Festival.