A Trip of a Lifetime ~ Maria, Madeline, Joan and Deborah

No matter how many times I tried to dissuade them, they went anyway. Without me too!  
This story is so awesome that I want to run the entire trip diary, so I broke it into pieces for you.  What a trip!



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a trip

Madeline Vitella and Maria Agostini Leps live about 45 minutes from each other, Maria in PA and Madeline in NJ. Because of their proximity, they were able to meet each other several times during the planning process of this exciting trip. But until the day of departure, none of us had met Joan Brenin or Deborah Georgini Beaupre. On May 9, 2015, everyone finally met.

Here’s our story:

More than 6 months ago, we four grandmas from different parts of the US decided we wanted to go to Italy to see the countries where our beloved young men of Il Volo grew up. It all started as a dream, but with enthusiasm and gusto we began to plan.

The first thing we decided was that we needed a guide and driver so that we would not have to rent a car or be dragging our luggage on and off trains and buses. (Once we saw how they drive in Italy we were so glad we didn’t rent a car!). Through mutual friends we had discovered Sicily Routes, a tour company that advertised personalized tours throughout Sicily. We contacted Ciro Grillo, the owner of Sicily Routes. Ciro was very enthused about our plans and suggested other cities we should visit as well, but we were adamant about what we wanted to do and where we wanted to go. As it turned out, Ciro knew exactly what our trip should be like and wanted us to get the most out of our visit. In addition to the towns we had insisted upon, he included some other historical/beautiful/entertaining cities – towns that were famous for certain things and other towns that were just beautiful country. We are so glad we listened to him! We saw so many things we didn’t know existed!

So the plan for Sicily was almost complete. Now, we thought, what do we do about Italy? That’s the very first part of our trip. Well, Ciro to the rescue! He contacted some people he knew in Italy and hooked us up with a tour guide for that portion of our trip. Ciro checked up on our driver at least twice a day to make sure we were getting the most out of our visit.


May 7, 2015: Joan flew into Philadelphia from FL and Deborah flew to Pisa from TX, by way of Germany.

May 8, 2015: Madeline and Maria finally met Joan in person for the first time at Philadelphia International Airport and the three flew to Rome. Deborah lands in Pisa.

May 9, 2015: Deborah flew from Pisa to Rome where Madeline, Deborah, Maria, and Joan finally met in person to begin the trip of a lifetime!


May 9, 2015 – Hotel Cicerone, Rome

Deborah and our guide for the day, Amor, met us when our plane landed in Rome. None of us had ever met Deborah, although we chatted often via messenger and skyped a couple of times. BUT, Deborah was wearing an IL Volo shirt, so we knew it had to be her!!!

From the airport we went to our hotel where we checked in and dropped our luggage then we toured a bit of Rome. Amor took us to Dino and Tony’s for lunch, a restaurant he has been patronizing for many years. We had no menus; they served us whatever they were making for the day. We had appetizers consisting of 2 different kinds of pizza, 3 different salamis, and some fried cheeses. The second course was pasta with pancetta, and another pasta with red sauce; sparkling water and house wine were the drinks. Then they brought out a liqueur, tiramisu, and coffee. The owners were very hospitable and happy to see the 4 Ladies from America, and take pictures with us.
a trip 2After touring Rome for several hours, we went back to our hotel to finally get settled in our rooms and take showers, etc. Later that evening we had dinner at The Blue Grotto, which was across the street from our hotel.

After dinner we took a walk to a tabaccheria for a gift bag for one of the gifts we brought for the ladies of Il Volo, because Madeline wasn’t smart enough to bring it from home! Unfortunately they didn’t have what we were looking for. We did purchase one later on in Sicily.

May 10:

Breakfast at the hotel was a typical Italian breakfast – carbs, carbs, carbs – plus much more! The waiters, Domenico and Sammy, were full of fun and enjoyed talking and taking pictures with us.

Our new guide (for the remainder of our stay on the mainland), Christophe, picked us up at our hotel for our 4 hour tour and we were surprised and pleased that he provided us each with bottled water! We didn’t expect it, but he did so every day that he was with us in Italy. He was from France originally and has lived in Italy for several years. Christophe was dressed in a suit and tie and we said…”oh no!!! It’s too hot…you need to get comfortable when touring with us!!”

Today we toured more of Rome:

  • Bambino Gesu Ospital, the Children’s Hospital that was built in the 7th or 8th Century and where all seriously ill children from all of Europe were brought for medical treatment
  • St Paul’s, the 1st Basilica
  • The Trevi Fountain (which was being refurbished) and the Spanish steps
  • The Mussolini Bldg. and Napoleon’s mother’s apt
  • The Forum
  • We saw the most beautiful panoramic views of Rome – and snow capped mountains in the distance.

We learned that every country in the world has 2 Ambassadors in Italy… one for Rome and one for the Vatican, which is a separate city within Rome.

We toured the Colosseum and the Pantheon. We also saw Circus Maximus, the ancient Roman Chariot Racing stadium; Caesar’s home; and “The Keyhole.” The Keyhole is a door with a small keyhole at eye level; in it you can see 3 cities – Rome, The Vatican, and Malta.

This excursion took approx 3 – 4 hours! When we got back to the car, Christophe told us that Ciro had called to make sure we were being taken care of and that we were enjoying our day!

After touring we went to the hotel and rested a bit until we were ready for dinner. The hotel manager recommended Le Cupole Ristorante Pizzeria, which was a couple of blocks away. He also said they have a specialty – the best Linguine with lobster. Deborah was ready for that. He made the reservation for us, but forgot to ask one thing!! We walked the couple of blocks, were seated and ready to order. We already knew what Deborah was having and of course – lo and behold….no lobster today!!! Deborah was so disappointed, but she made another selection and we had a great dinner!

May 11: Morning

We had tickets for the Vatican tour (which included the Sistine Chapel and Saint Peter’s Basilica). So breathtakingly beautiful! The craftsmanship that has lasted all these years!
a trip 3May 11: Afternoon – Liberty Hotel, Roseto degli Abruzzi

Christophe drove us from Rome to Roseto degli Abruzzi, to The Liberty Hotel for our 3 night stay. What a great ride we had listening to IL Volo musica!! We believe we made Christophe an IL Volo fan now, as he was singing along with the songs…especially Grande Amore!! He was so funny!!

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This hotel has beautiful views of the sea and the mountains. A very popular seaside resort town where people from all parts of Europe spend their summer vacations.

We checked into our rooms and got the important WiFi codes then took off for a stroll on the avenue, which is along the beautiful Adriatic Sea.  There are all kinds of clubs here, where we have seen pictures of Gianluca and Erny at the beach many, many times. The clubs are not as you would expect to find in the US. They are basically small shops that serve food and drinks, with tables, chairs, and sofas, and they have chairs and umbrellas on the beach for their guests. It appeared to us that you have to belong to a particular club to use that part of the beach. Our hotel had a section of the beach that provided umbrellas and tables, chairs, etc. The beaches here have pathways to walk on so that you are not walking on the hot sand to get to the water.

Dinner was at La Piccolo RosBurgo. This was a gated restaurant, again, just a few blocks away. When you walked through the gates from the street you walk down a tree-lined path up to the restaurant. As you approach, you see tables and benches outside for dining al fresco, or you can eat inside. We decided to eat outside because it was a beautiful night. We had ARROSTICINI (of course) and pizza. The Arrosticini was delicious, and we wanted more, but after eating the pizza and drinking beer we were all full. We said we would go back another night, as Deborah wanted to see if she could beat Ignazio’s record of 60 that he ate while staying with Gianluca!!!
a trip 6Everyone in Roseto seems to know each other and it appeared that our hotel was a gathering place to watch soccer on TV and more.

Later that evening, Madeline, wearing an Il Volo shirt, was sitting in the lobby of our hotel with Deborah and Joan when someone came in and was talking to the desk clerk. The man mentioned IL Volo to the clerk after he saw Madeline’s shirt. Madeline asked him if he knew IL Volo and he said he did and that he held Gianluca when he was a baby. He said he owns the Bar BereBene and his name was Emiliano. Madeline was so excited; she told him it was on our list of places to go. She and Emiliano exchanged hugs and kisses as the Italians do, and told him we would see him there! Bar BereBene was previously known as Bar Centrale which was owned by Nonno Ernesto!

May 12:


This was the day that Gianluca and his father, Ercole, came to the Liberty Hotel to meet with us.

Wait until you hear about that!  As soon as I am able to control my jealousy I’ll run part 2. ~Marie

28 thoughts on “A Trip of a Lifetime ~ Maria, Madeline, Joan and Deborah”

  1. Wow ladies how funtastic & meeting Gianluca & Ercole is icing on the trip now we all jealous. Congradulation for going by yourselves

    1. Hey Loretta, the “waiting moderation” usually happens randomly. Something must have pegged you as a new commenter, No idea why. Welcome to the Flight Crew! Loretta, wasn’t it?

      1. Wasn’t it what? I had to have a new software installed in my computer so would that have caused that to come up & I am having trouble with Facebook & Twitter they keep telling to change my password all the time & I have a heck of a time trying to get into both, I have had to change passwords so many times. I have a facebook password & I am afraid to shake my desk if its going to tell me change my password it is no good anymore.

  2. WOW MARIE !!! What a tease you are !!!! To bad you didn’t come along so that you too could feel Ike it was a dream just like we do !! We certainly didn’t realize that we would be welcomed with so much warmth and opened arms in Ilvololand !!! We had the adventure of a lifetime !!! I hope that you all enjoy reading about this memorable journey as much as we did living it !!! Thank you so much Marie for sharing our experience with our Flight Crew Family !!!

    1. Thanks Joanie. I’ve had the privilege of reading the whole thing! Awesome fun. I would have gone with you but I had a hair appointment that week. Yeah, that’s my story.

    2. It sounds utterly fantastic! Wowee, a dream of a trip! Thanks for sharing. I am eagerly awaiting the next installment!

  3. Wow, Thank you for sharing this first part of your trip.
    I couldn’t help smiling while I read your great event
    and also had a lump in my throat from the emotion.
    I know you will take lots of pictures to share with us
    that missed the thrill of the trip of a lifetime…….sounds
    like you girls had loads of fun and surprises especially
    meeting Gianluca and Ercole. That alone would have
    been worth the trip……..Did you get some hugs?
    Enough to last a while at least? Gianluca and
    Ercole would have been scenery enough. I say you
    are Lucky Ladies.

  4. WWAAAA I WANT TO GO TO ITALY Ssnniiff ssnniiff Looking forward to next installment

  5. What a fantastic trip for you four lucky ladies!!! Many of you have met some of Gianluca’s family! I was never lucky enough to be at the right place, at the right time! Such precious memories, I can not wait to read the 2nd installment!!!

  6. Oh this sounds like such a wonderful trip. I had wondered how you went about plotting out the trip and places to go and you found the wonderful Ciro! Well, you have me good and hooked to read more of your adventures! I am so envious and delighted for you.

  7. It has been great reading about your trip to Italy… The pictures makes me feel like I am there with you for the moment… Thank you for sharing this wonderful experience with us… But I have to say, I have never been more jealous in my life than when I looked at the pictures of all of you with Gianluca, dad and grandad and I was not there with y’all sharing that moment… You were truly blessed to be able to spend that time with the Ginoble’s … Your Italian Vacation as been truly enjoyed by all … Thank you for sharing it with us…

  8. This is a great read! I am enjoying every word. A huge thank you to the ladies for writing this, I almost feel like I was there too. Looking forward to part 2!!

  9. Marie, I was already to book a trip to Sicily this year, but was talked out of it. Reading your trip account I think I should have told them all to go you know where. Waiting eagerly for the next part. Thanks, Joanie G ( the other Joanie)

  10. To the ladies, Thank you sooooo much for sharing your wonderful trip. I will try not to be envious of all your beautiful adventures but it will be difficult. Since you have shared the trip with us it will be easier, thank you again.
    To Marie, thank you for posting this wonderful account of the Italian Vacation.

  11. Hi everyone! I’m so happy you are enjoying this adventure with us. There is lots more to come!!! Marie is doing a FABULOUS job of keeping you all in suspense, but it’s worth it, trust me.

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