Our final day in Italy was fantastic. Today we took a private boat to Panto Island - no tattoo and Ricardo Montalban weren't waiting for us - but a wonderful feast, and the delightful Panto family was.
The Panto Island is located about 4 miles east of Venice and is a private island owned by the Panto Family. The island is now a family compound and is absolutely beautiful. Giorgio Panto who started the company died in a tragic helicopter crash just off this island in November 2006. I was fortunate to meet him on several occasions including just two weeks before the accident when he and Simon stopped by my office for a visit and a cappuccino. He was an interesting gentleman having started several media stations in Italy, started a political party, and of course owned and operated the Panto window and door company. He is survived by his two sons and daughter. One of his sons and daughter hosted our party - they were very gracious and most delightful.
Our afternoon on Panto island started of course with a Bellini served on the patio. Meanwhile the food was all being prepared with the main course being freshly caught derado from the nearby Adriatic Sea cooked in encrusted sea salt over a hot charcoal grille. Of course for starting courses we enjoyed a lobster/potato salad, polenta, deep fried langostinos, and just a few thick grilled t-bones. The fish was amazing - moist with a salty, crisp crust. Fantastic!
Dinner was capped off with a wonderful dedication by the youngest son to his father - there was not a dry eye in the house. Their passion, and love for their father and all he had built and created were celebrated. The business, besides a great product, was about the relationships that had been created through the years. We were all part of the Panto family and they made you feel this way. With the dedication complete the son hopped on the private helicopter and flew away just as his father had done so tragically just two years ago. What drama - totally Italian! But what a day - very relaxing and most memorable.
After a few glasses of wine, a challenging game of foosball, and a group photo we were off to Venice for the remainder of the day. It was a great trip and I cannot thank Simon and my friends at Panto enough for this wonderful trip.