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The Scottsdale architectural firm of Candelaria Design Associates is one of the premier luxury residential architecture firms in the country. Enjoy our blog which features our work, our travel, our recipes, wines, tips on design and decorating, and the lives of our clients and employees, etc.....its all the ingredients for the Candelaria Design Lifestyle. Contact Candelaria Design to start your dream residence 602-604-2001!

Candelaria Design 10th Anniversary Tour Italy

Candelaria Design 10th Anniversary Tour Italy Begins!
Mark & Isabel at the Villa San Michele above Florence

This Wednesday we depart on our 10th Anniversary Candelaria Design Tour Italy!  Isabel and I have 16 travelers going, many that have never been to Italy, many have never been to Europe. It's about on this fourth day prior to the trip where I start to feel the anxiety and excitement of bringing and leading 16 people who have never traveled together through Italy. Be sure to follow our trip right here on the blog as I will do my best to post every day – along with some photos and video from the trip. We also will be posting on our Candelaria Design Tour Italy page on Facebook. So make sure to follow us as we make our way through Italy.

2012 Trip at Villa Piazzano
Enjoying brunch at the Villa Pizziano - Tuscany  - 2010

Casa San Marino - Umbria
Many people ask me how the idea for this trip started. It simply began with a client who came to me and wanted me to design a Tuscan home. I asked him if they knew what a Tuscan home was and they said no not really. I jokingly suggested we should go to Tuscany and really figure it out and they loved the idea. At the same time I was designing a home for a travel agent and her husband and I told her the story and she said she had great connections in Tuscany and Umbria and in fact they would go with us and show us around and get us set up. It all sounded good to us and off we went!

2003 Tour Italy - Montepuciano

St. Mark's Square ~ 2001 Tour

What impressed my client was not only the interesting architecture, but the food, wine, and way of life, especially in the country - off the beaten path! During this inaugural trip my clients suggested I do this every year and bring clients and let them experience this. I loved the idea and the Candelaria Tour Italy was born.

Trevi Fountain - Rome
The Vatican - Rome
Villa Rotunda - Vincenze
Over the last 14 years we have had as few as four travelers and as many as 22. We have explored Florence, Rome, Venice, Milan, Portofino and the Cinque Terre, and this year we add Lake Como! We have had travelers as young as 8 years old and as old as 65. The trip has really transformed from those first adventures but the essence of the trip and the message of the trip is the same and that is embracing and enjoying life and the company of good friends. That is what we do on this trip and the Italians are the best at it - at least based on all of my travels to other countries I still think Italy does it best!

Tour Italy 2004
When we first did this trip it was before cell phones and google maps and GPS. We had walkie talkies and I was the GPS! Those of you who were on some of those early trips remember some of those crazy adventures. The trip is so well put together now that as a first time traveler I could not imagine a better way to break into traveling.

The Duomo - Firenze
John and Denise Schultz - Villa San Michelle - Florence
We fly into Florence, enjoy two nights there including an amazing dinner at the Villa San Michele in the hills above Florence. Then we set you up with your own car and we convoy through Tuscany to our farmhouse agriturismo compound in Umbria. Here we have a chef and wine guide and this becomes our base for seven days. I love the Umbrian countryside and the beauty of being away from the crowds and the tourist traps. The people are genuine, the food is genuine and the wine is fantastic. Relaxing on the patio overlooking the hills of Tuscany with a great Sangiovese and nothing is better.
Tour Italy 2010 - Trattoria Toscana, Cortona

Mark enjoying a cigar in Siena

From our country base we explore wonderful places like San Gimignano, Assisi, Siena, with wine villages of Montalcino and Montepulciano, Pienze, and Cortona - famed for the Frances Mayes book Under the Tuscan Sun. Everyone loves the country! From the fancy hotels at the beginning and end of the trip to the simple quarters and facilities of a country house, you truly experience the contrast and delight of the country. What’s nice about this trip is you have your own car, so if you want to take a fork in the road and go do a little exploring on your own you are totally welcomed to. We always set up rendezvous points and I love the variety of experiences and treasures that everyone comes back with each day!

Villa d'Este - Lake Como
The end of the trip is always different, usually something new, and a place I have never been. At that juncture of the trip, my travelers and I become explorers together and I love it. It truly then becomes an adventure like the early trips and we discover new places together. We still set up the final hotel venue and it is usually amazing and most memorable. This year we conclude our trip at the Villa d’Este on Lake Como – and bring in fall at the foot of the Italian Alps – what could be better.

I’m excited about my travelers this year. In addition to four returning travelers I have a couple clients, a couple designers, and then people that just want to explore Italy, and again many for the first time! I am also bringing Evelyn Jung and her husband Scott. Evelyn runs my office and has been organizing this trip for me for years! I felt it was time she experienced the wonderful trip she has helped me orchestrate and execute all these years. I have travelers from age 22 to age 60 so a nice diversity there. We had our pre-trip dinner at Tomaso’s and so everyone for the most part has already met and so the ice has been broken and we re ready to get into the full swing of our trip come Wednesday.
Door in Assisi

And so begins our 10th trip! What adventures and experiences lie before us??? What great new wines and recipes will I discover? How many pictures of fabulous doors will I add to my already 100,000 images of doors in my data base, along with corbels, and windows, arches, and groin vaults….. I take about 300-500 pictures a day so I need to clear out the computer and get ready! As noted above follow us here and on Facebook and participate in the party! We have 52 people who have already expressed an interest in next year’s trip in September so we may be adding a trip in May too! We will see. Details of next years trip is on our Events tab on our Candelaria Design Tour Italy Facebook page.