Bill and Carol Sansone started LivingItalian in 2012, intent on sharing their years of experience living, working, and traveling independently throughout Italy.
Almost 40 years ago, they decided to explore the regional cultures, traditions, food and history of southern Italy where all of their grandparents were born and raised. They wanted to know, “What would our lives be like had all our grandparents remained in Italy?”

​“LivingItalian is more of a state-of-mind than it is a business,” says Bill.  “We offer itinerary planning and advice to independent travelers who have already experienced the one or two week, guided group tours of the usual destinations. Our clients are people seeking a more authentic Italian lifestyle and regional, cultural experience.  Our itineraries connect clients’ expectations with local providers of accommodations, car rentals, cooking schools, wine makers, etc. in Italy for an authentic Italian experience.”
All of Bill and Carol’s grandparents came from southern Italy and made New York City their new home.  Carol’s family settled in the Bronx, while Bill’s family settled in Mt. Vernon.  After marrying in 1972, they lived at Fort Dix, New Jersey for a year followed by two years at the NATO HQ in Naples.  After Bill’s discharge, they toured Italy, France, Switzerland, and Germany for several months and then returned to Washington, DC to begin their careers.
Since the mid-1980’s Bill and Carol have returned frequently to Italy for long vacations.  In 1999, they began spending their summers with their son in Carol’s ancestral Calabrian village, Cirò Marina.  From there they explored most of the Mezzogiorno and Sicily.
“Our son was 13 years old and it was important to us that he learn and appreciate his heritage and regional culture,” professed Bill.  “And thanks to social media, he stays in touch with Italian friends and relatives he met over 15 years ago.”

In 2010, Bill and Carol decided to take a chance.  They packed up and moved to Soriano nel Cimino.  They found an apartment and a car and began exploring Alto Lazio, Umbria, and Tuscany.  Three months later they found themselves working for a local firm conducting cultural tours and regional cooking classes for small groups of Americans, Australians, South Africans, and Canadians.  They also managed multiple vacation apartments, the housekeeping and kitchen staff, and ground transportation.
“It was an incredible learning experience,” says Carol, “But, in spite of the company’s promises, it lacked the authentic regional, cultural experience we sought to share.  So we returned to Florida to develop our own concept.”
Over the years, Bill and Carol have met hundreds of people who wanted to experience authentic Italian culture on their own but had no idea how.  When they described their experiences, the response was usually the same: “We’d love to explore Italy on our own but we don’t know how.  We don’t speak Italian and we’re afraid of getting lost…or worse yet, ripped off.”  Those comments were Bill and Carol’s inspiration to offer a better travel experience.
LivingItalian’s services start with a free two-hour phone consultation to develop a profile of the client’s expectations, travel experience, budget parameters and preferred travel dates.  This information forms the basis of a preliminary travel plan.
Once a client approves the preliminary travel plan, they develop a detailed itinerary that includes destinations, suggestions for ground transportation, accommodations and local contact information.  The itinerary can be fine-tuned and allows the client to book their reservations, arrange payment directly with the service provider in Italy and make changes on the fly.

“We encourage independent travelers to step outside their comfort zone to experience authentic regional Italian culture and food traditions,” say Bill and Carol.  “Of course, everyone wants the well-known pizzas, pastas, cheeses and wines but those are just a fraction of Italy’s culinary treasures and traditions.  We joke that there’s an Italian law that requires tourists to eat gelato at least twice a day.”

When asked what they thought would be the most important thing to do in preparation for a trip to Italy, Carol responded, “Read, read, read and read some more.  This is to develop a personal mission.”  They recommend the Blue Guides for Italy’s regions.  They also suggest checking out Facebook pages like LivingItalian and websites like Slow Travel that contain valuable information for novice independent travelers.
Bill says, “Why spend time and money just to see places that you can watch on cable TV from the comfort of your living room?  Go to Italy to engage the people and discover new tastes, sights, and sounds away from the big group tour buses.  It’s all about avoiding the beaten path and exploring the paths less traveled.”
In other words, live like an Italian.

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