A warm welcome to all of the members of our Aroma Tours Newsletter in over 30 countries around the world.
Robbi and I are greatly looking forward to the beginning of another wonderful season of Aroma Tours adventures this May in the beautiful Spanish spring with our Flavours of Spain Tour and Spanish Gourmet Pilgrimage and it always delights us to share in the excitement building up for our guests as we all begin the mental journey that leads up to our actual departure.
After 25 wonderful years, as we contemplate throttling back on the number of tours we will be offering, Robbi and I feel truly blessed to once again be sharing our passion for the fabulous places and experiences that we love, with delightful people from around the world.
This year is all set to be our most successful tour season ever with all of our tours either sold out or down to the last few places! As always, it is our returning guests and their friends who are leading this fabulous response.
Without doubt, the main reason that we have grown and flourished over the years, is the on-going support we have received from our past Aroma Travellers and we are thrilled to see that they continue to make up almost 65% of our guests!
We would also like to give our heart-felt thanks to all of you who continue to support us with your kind words and referrals.
Robbi and I also greatly appreciate the wonderful words of thanks we have received over the years and have added a new compilation of Guest Comments to our site.
One of the great pleasures for Robbi and I after each tour season is receiving messages of thanks from our Aroma Travellers. We have compiled a few below from our past adventures and hope that you enjoy reading about their experiences with us.
Glorious leisurely gourmet lunch in a beautiful 2 star Michelin restaurant in Spain - joyful and delicious!
Robbi and I have a very strong connection with the Haute Provence region of southern France.
It is where our Aroma Tours began in earnest over 2 decades ago and to this day we consider it our second home.
Some of the people who inhabit these hills cloaked in glorious fields of lavender, number amongst our dearest friends and we have many wonderful stories to share of our adventures in this beautiful region with our Aroma Travellers each year.
We have danced late into the night at country weddings were we are the only non-French guests, watched children grow from babies to young adults, witnessed triumph and tragedy and felt our hearts sing at the glory of HUGE fields of vibrant purple lavender, undulating in the wind.
To stand in such a field, inhaling the glorious scent with the sound of thousands of bees busily gathering nectar ringing in your ears, is to be in love with life.
This is our heart-land, blessed with aromatic plants, truffles and beautiful perched villages, all overseen by the majesty of the iconic Mt Ventoux.
We will always have Provence, it is in our blood and we hope to share our love of this glorious region with you.
Robbi and I are thrilled to see the outstanding response for our 2019 season ( our best ever result ), with most of our tours already sold out and the remainder down to the last few vacancies.
The current booking status for our 2019 season at the time of this newsletter is:-
|List of Tours for 2019|
|Flavours of Spain||20 - 27 May 2019||SOLD OUT|
|Spanish Gourmet Pilgrimage||27 May - 3 June 2019||SOLD OUT|
|Flavours of France (invite only)||10 - 17 June 2019||SOLD OUT|
|Heart of Provence||24 June - 1 July 2019||2 vacancies ( bookings closing April 7 )|
|Essential Provence||1 - 8 July 2019||2 vacancies ( bookings closing April 7 )|
Treasures of Provence
(ladies only special event)
|12 - 19 July 2019||SOLD OUT|
|Sojourn in Provence (private group)||20 - 27 July 2019||SOLD OUT|
|Aromas of Tuscany||3 - 10 September 2019||2 vacancies|
|Flavours of Italy||10 - 17 September 2019||2 vacancies ( due to a cancellation )|
|Bali Women's Retreat||7 - 14 September 2019||SOLD OUT|
|Bali Women's Retreat||16 - 23 September 2019||SOLD OUT|
Our 2020 season is already off to a flying start with all of our tours either half full or almost sold out:-
|List of Tours for 2020|
|Flavours of Spain||18 - 25 May 2020||4 vacancies|
|Spanish Gourmet Pilgrimage||25 May - 1 June 2020||3 vacancies|
|Flavours of France (invite only)||8 - 15 June 2020||5 vacancies|
|Heart of Provence||22 - 29 June 2020||8 vacancies|
|Essential Provence||29 June - 6 July 2020||8 vacancies|
Treasures of Provence
(ladies only special event)
|10 - 17 July 2020||2 vacancies|
|Aromas of Tuscany||1 - 8 September 2020||8 vacancies|
|Flavours of Italy||8 - 15 September 2020||9 vacancies|
|Bali Women's Retreat||5 - 12 September 2020||SOLD OUT|
|Bali Women's Retreat||14 - 21 September 2020||5 vacancies|
As well as couples and friends travelling together, we are regularly joined by solo travellers - mostly women, who appreciate being able to journey with liked minded people from around the world, without the need to do all the planning and take on the daunting task of touring by themselves.
Joining one of our small group tours is easy and we have already made all of the arrangements on your behalf to ensure that you have a delightful, stress-free holiday with the focus on having fun.
Having a ready-made group of friends to travel with, and us to take wonderful care of you is the way to go!
We have carefully crafted off-the-beaten-path itineraries that are the perfect balance of structure, experiences, details and free time to enjoy in your own way.
There have been a significant number of guests over the years who and have joined us multiple times, some of whom have become dear friends.
Giacamo Puccini is renowned as Italy's most famous opera composer.
We visit his birth place of Lucca during our Flavours of Italy Tour and enjoy the wonderful experience of listening to brilliant young singers performing arias from several of his operas including "La Boheme", "Edgar", "Tosca" et al.
It is always a spine tingling experience which sends our spirits soaring especially when we hear a glorious soprano voice performing his most famous aria - "Mio Bambino Caro".
Each year we follow up this special event with a fine meal in a glorious restaurant which usually includes animated conversation about the earlier performances.
Of the man himself:-
Giacomo Antonio Domenico Michele Secondo Maria Puccini was born in Lucca, Tuscany on 22nd December 1858 into a family with five generations of musical history behind them. It was natural then that as a young man he took the position of church organist and choir master in Lucca. However, it was after witnessing a performance of Verdi's "Aida" in Pisa that he became inspired to become an opera composer.
At the age of 21 he enrolled in the Milan Conservatory and in the same year composed the "Messa" based on elements of the Catholic mass and gave glimpses of his great talent for writing beautiful, poignant melodies and constructing fine orchestrations.
Puccini's first published opera "Edgar" was not a great success, however, with his third opera "Manon Lescault" published in 1893 he achieved international fame and sufficient income to achieve an independent life.
Puccini spent most of his time in Torre del Lago fifteen miles from Lucca and by 1900 he had constructed a villa on the lake where he wrote some of his most memorable works including: "Manon Lescaut", "La Bohème" ( arguably today's most popular opera ), "Tosca" and "Madama Butterfly".
Whilst following his passion for driving fast cars, Puccini was nearly killed in a major accident in 1903 and after 1904, his compositions became less frequent.
Those that followed were:- "La Fanciulla del West" in 1910 and "La Rondine" in 1917 and in 1918 he premiered "Il Trittico" composed of three one-act operas: "Il Tabarro" (a horrific episode), "Suor Angelica" (a sentimental tragedy) and "Gianni Schicchi" (a comedy). Of the three, "Gianni Schicchi" has remained the most popular, containing the popular aria "O Mio Babbino Caro".
An habitual cigar smoker, Puccini eventually contracted throat cancer and died on November 29, 1924 in Brussels. News of his death reached New York during a performance of "La Bohème", where the opera was immediately stopped, and the orchestra played Chopin's Funeral March for the stunned audience.
"Turandot", his final opera, was left unfinished, and the last two scenes were completed with some controversy by Franco Alfano.
Italy in autumn is a magnificent kaleidoscope of colourful landscapes, beautiful hilltop villages, ripe grape vines, celebration and joy for life.
During our Aromas of Tuscany and Flavours of Italy tours we absorb the passion of the Italian lifestyle and savour the delightful flavours of the land's bounty, along with the rich cultural heritage evident in the art, architecture, historical sites, festivals, fashion, design, craftsmanship and unique approach to living.
Those of us who journey here are all destined to be transformed by the magic of Italy - feeling more joyful by the moment, speaking more enthusiastically, smiling broadly and even indulging in a bit of emphatic arm waving!
Robbi and I look forward to welcoming you to one of our delightful tours or retreats as we continue moving towards our retirement in the next few years.
Jim and Robbi