Customized Travel Counsel

Saturday, April 22, 2006

Introducing CTC

-- For lifechanging experiences worldwide --

"Suddenly I realize
That if I stepped out of my body I would break
Into blossom."

-- from James Wright's "A Blessing." Sylvie and Richard, owners of blossom HOME, present this excerpt at the outset to set the tone for all they do in travel. Their seven-year-old came up with the name of their vintage furnishings shop, btw. See

JULY UPDATE: Our Flea Market Spree for Antiques and Collectibes is now set. Sweet Italian immersion, even for those who don't buy a blessed thing.

This is not necessarily a lifechanging experience...just fun. Which can be epiphanic enough.

One of the charms of the schedule below is that you can plug into the trip as per your convenience, arranging for anywhere from a few days to two weeks abroad with us. Prices vary accordingly, but the package below --covering EVERYTHING except airfare & shipping-- is 2,850 euros; your total U.S. dollar cost equivalent is contingent upon the exchange rate at the time that your reservation deposit is sent. With all programs, one's cost can be lowered by customizing one's itinerary to fit a given budget. Sometimes a sou will do.

Special note: For those interested in checking out property values overseas, for the purposes of renting, buying or sharing, there will be time to arrange for such independent experiences. Cooking and painting are two other examples of what can be fit in during free time. A separate poetry-centered excursion is being planned for 2008.

October 3, 2007 (Wednesday) Depart U.S.A.
4th Arrive Florence
5th Tour Florence/Shop Florence/Mare Nostrum Massage
6th Tour Florence/Travel to Arezzo
7th Shop Arezzo/La musica of the locals
8th Shop Arezzo/Travel to Siena
9th Tour Siena/Italian Poetry over Pasta
10th Shop Siena/Visit nearby hilltop communities
11th Chianti Wine Tour*/Relax in Siena
*Exclusive Surprise Shopping Spot slated for this trip.
12th Travel to Pistoia**
13th Tour/Shop Pistoia, including a special Brunetto Pratesi opportunity.
14th Shop Pistoia/Travel to Florence for Arti e Mestieri, Piazza Santo Spirito, and much more that's exclusively offered.
15th Shipping Arranged/Tour Florence/Depart for U.S.A.
**Montepulciano/Volterra will be considered as an alternative to Pistoia, contingent upon the composition of our group.

Above is merely the bare bones of what we have in store for participants. Contact us at 408-358-5875 for further details, etc. We provide free materials/advice throughout the year to one and all, but participants in our programs are given preference for research-centered requests, etc.


Most people need about six months abroad in order to have what we call a lifechanging experience. Not everyone, however. If you can't travel overseas at all, consider hosting someone from another country for the name of having that elusive "lifechanging" experience of which we speak. Regardless, we do believe that we can advise you respecting when and where to travel worldwide (in a healthy way for one and all) whether or not you want to change your outlook, your ground of being.

One's destination is never a place, but a new way of seeing things.

Something we all need these days.

For 2008, our primary focus will be seeing with new eyes in Italy.

The Italians and their land...will help to make time stand still for you.

Whether we're shopping, hiking, preparing meals or viewing art...the Italian people (in their glorious variety) are a huge part of the experience. And if you go to Italy with us, you'll come away with one-on-one memories of a lifetime. The people of Italy will live in you forever. The land cannot be fully expressed in words, but its authentic passions you will know. Not just another beautiful trip to lovely Italy. A new approach.

Our programs:

1. Il Palio: Arguably, the world's most astonishing/glorious festival...that has been ongoing --virtually uninterrupted-- since before Dante. Let us invite you to a private viewing of a mini-epic 20-minute DVD which will take your breath away. Plan ASAP for 2008. If we sign you on to this experience, it'll be a Satisfaction/Money Back Guaranteed Proposition! Most people attending are unlikely to have time stand still*,'s so complex and spectacular that we're obliged to include it. A lifechanging experience if you tread lightly on its very foreign soil. Think not Italian or Sienese here, but, rather, contradaioli...and you'll be off to a good start. An exhilarating adventure even for people who know Siena quite well. Even for those who have already experienced Il Palio.

*Although in Too Much Tuscan Sun, Dario Castagno does note: "These are beautiful nights; the magical aura of Siena can give a visitor the impression that time has stopped."

2. Rilassarsi: Relaxing in Italy with like-minded individuals. In museums and churches, in spas, and in pristine surroundings. This is my personal favorite; it resonates as the films Enchanted April and A Room with a View did for us.

3. Italia Insolito: There are well-hidden aspects of Italian life and little-known opportunities for pleasurable shopping, wine tasting (like there's no tomorrow), etc. Name your preference, and let us direct you. Truly unknown territory to most.

4. La Studentessa: Women interested in the culinary arts, intenstive language courses, etc. should consider our singular settings for study. Accompanying partners not studying can have special arrangements.

5. Il Treno: Our little "Mozart of Geography," Marcel (see his adjacent profile), will lead families on romantic trains of the d'Orcia Valley in the Fall...possibly on the occasion of the white truffle fair at San Giovanni d'Asso, passing through removed and evocative corners of Tuscany.

6. Abitare: To live a place meant for you. Permanent relocation assistance...with weekly announcements concerning properties. Scouting throughout Italy.

7. Pasolini: Italy through the eyes of filmmaker Pier Paolo Pasolini. Private or semi-private tours using politics/cinematic aesthetics as a point of departure. A tutorial of sorts.

Programs vary in price*, but all trips cover EVERYTHING for seven to ten days, including airfare. Details upon request. Contact Richard Oxman at 408-358-5875 (or in Los Gatos, California, U.S.A. Aside from a 2007 Flea Market/Antique Spree Special slated for early October and the annual July 2/August 16 dates** set for Il Palio, scheduling is very per your convenience.

*Partial scholarships are sometimes available, and special financial consideration can be given on a case-by-case basis. For Il Palio, pricing is greatly contingent upon participants' preferences for viewing/photographic interests. In general, the cost is a function of many variables, including special accommodation needs, dietary requirements, etc. The length of most trips is optional.

**Il Palio takes place twice each year; a minimum of a week in Siena is desirable... evenly divided around either of its dates. A month in Siena at this time, and you could have the most epiphanic experience imaginable. Exclusive footage of pre-Palio and post-Palio events can sometimes compensate for whatever you some degree.

Completion of an extensive Personal Profile helps us to determine the best itinerary, etc. for each person. Consultations with the Oxman family are free. For advice on travel worldwide. In many cases, we can let you have updated materials (books, reports, etc.) gratis.

Please review and as a personal family introduction of sorts. Those sites are slated for updating, etc., but they should still serve to establish our credentials, and clarify our spirit.