Our Guest Traveller this week is Naomi Capomolla, co-founder of Little Finders, which is all about “discovering great experiences for kids of all ages with ‘hundreds & thousands’ of savings for the whole family”. Naomi grew up on Melbourne’s Mornington Peninsula and always knew she had to travel, be it to the city, around Australia, or to the big, wide world. Her style of travelling is one where all creature comforts are provided for so she can immerse herself in the local culture. Last year, Naomi took her partner and her three-year-old twins to Lucca in Tuscany, Italy, for a three-month immersion in the local culture and we’re excited to share her very personal and amazingly comprehensive story of her trip. It’s like a how-to for anyone wishing to put their children into school in Italy. Enjoy Naomi’s journey…
Tastes of Italy.
Living in Lucca for three months had our family eating, drinking and sharing wonderful memories together on a daily basis. Our tastebuds were treated to the true tastes of fruit, where it gets you right in the back of the throat. Picking apricots, plums and apples from the trees on our property gave the kids a great excuse to get a bucket and collect their colours of choice for their daily fruit intake. The colour palette of all this fruit had our Little Finders Insta page going crazy with comments. It was an awful tease to those shivering back home.
My Little Finders have memories that are forever lasting and a wealth of experience that we wish to continue to invest in. Their little eyes are going to teach me so much more when we return this year.
- Pisa (famous for the unique leaning tower): 25km (40 minutes by car, 30 minutes by train) or bus. The main airport in Tuscany is here “Galileo Galilei” IATA: PSA;
- Florence (one of the most beautiful cities in Italy): 70km (1 hour by car, 1 hour and a half by train or bus). Second airport in Tuscany “Peretola” IATA: FLR;
- Siena (famous for the monuments and Palio on 2/07 and 15/08): 150km (less than 2 hours by car or bus);
- Versilia and Forte dei Marmi beaches: The Italian version of the French Rivieria – Glitz and Glam – 35km (40 minutes by car, 30 minutes by train or bus);
- Cinque Terre (beautiful place, you cannot miss it while you are in Italy): 70km (1 hour by car);
- Bologna: 150km (one hour and a half by car or train);
- Rome: 330km (3 hours by car and by train);
- Milan: 280km (2.5 hours by car and by train);
- Venice: 320km (3 hours by car and by train);
- Rimini, The great eastern side of Italy with long stretches of beaches: 275km (2.5 hours by car, more difficult by train).
4. Cultural differences to be aware of:
- Family is the centre of the social structure.
- Appearance matters – First impressions are lasting impressions. ‘Bella figura’ or good image is critical. But it’s more than dressing well, it extends to the aura you project, your demeanour, your confidence, your style.
- Clothes are important to Italians. I had to really consider my outfit for school drop offs. Shorts, t-shirts and thongs – best left for Australia. I loved having an excuse to up the ante a little bit and find reasons to go shopping for outfits.
- Keep your leisure wear for exercise only – not suitable for walking the streets.
- Air kissing on both cheeks starting with the left – once a relationship develops.
- If invited to their house – bring wine, chocolates, pastries (dulce) gift wrapped – it’s all in the presentation of the wrapping.
- Wine, it’s about quality, not quantity.
- Food, it’s about the gathering, there is always plentiful.
- Aperitif – they really do just enjoy one or two glasses and that’s enough.
5. Must-do’s and Must-see’s in Lucca: Whether you are interested in Nature and countryside or art and culture, it is the very soul of the city of Lucca that will capture your imagination. One of the many charms of this quintessential Italian city is that it has not been spoiled by mass tourism, and therefore, still has plenty of opportunities for a visitor who wants to capture the “real” Italy. Moreover, studying the Italian spoken in Tuscany, and especially in Lucca, you will learn one of the varieties of Italian language that is more similar to standard Italian. Lucca is a hidden jewel; a treasure to be revealed; and whoever discovers it cannot fail to remain enthralled. With roughly 90,000 inhabitants within the walls, Lucca is big enough to satisfy cultural and shopping needs, but small enough to retain the authentic spirit of life in Italy. With pre-Roman origins, there are traces of the city’s age throughout Lucca. The main feature of Lucca and what makes it unique, are its walls. The old town is surrounded by four miles of walls – giving a stunning vantage point for cyclists, runners and walkers alike. A walk on the wall is an experience that alone is worth the trip, but many other wonders await visitors, including small traditional shops of the past which are still thriving today, great restaurants with local delicacies, local wine, museums and regular musical events, (Lucca is the birth town of the great maestro Giacomo Puccini). The Lucca Summer festival is one not to be missed. Adele is playing this coming summer and I’m going. I have to say though, its all about the Food.
Top 5 places to eat at:
- Pizzeria Da Felice – the BEST pizza in Lucca;
- La Bottega Del Gelato – the BEST gelati in Lucca;
- Bar Pasticceria Elisa – the BEST pastries in Lucca;
- Franklin 33 – the BEST cocktails in Lucca; and
- Pieve di Brancoli – up in the hills 30 minutes from Lucca – best views, best pizza, you can’t beat the food.
How we managed three months away.
It takes a little planning, some courage, a supportive husband, a great network of friends available to Skype 24/7 to keep connected, and a wonderful business partner – Sal. Sal and I set up Little Finders a year ago and our utmost shared value was to work around our family, rather than having to live to work. Whilst I was away, we built our website, put all the nuts and bolts in place, wrote some content, crafted many proposals, and Sal spent a solid three months onboarding many business partners who help to create an incredible platform of wonderful offers, BIG savings and tonnes of discounts for our members. Our Little Finders App went live in January and we really are tapping into a market looking for ideas and fun things to do, with hundreds and thousands of savings for families. What’s more exciting is that we are going National into all other states in March and by the time I head back to Italy in May for another three months, we hope to launch our travel segment, ready for the European summer. We will be looking at all destinations from little eyes and discovering great experiences for kids all ages. And Cruises is what we know best. All around the world. Such a growing trend for families. Hope to have all the hot tips for Little Finders wishing to travel. Jump on board to Little Finders. $49.95 Annual Membership. It’s for everything FUN! For more information about Little Finders, visit www.littlefinders.com.au or see Instagram @littlefinders, Facebook littlefinders or email Naomi on firstname.lastname@example.org