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Places that changed me

The journey of life - places that changed me!


I cried the first time we drove into Rome and saw the Colosseum and the grandeur of Rome. I remember feeling that if humans could do such amazing things such as this without modern day technology, that really anything is possible. It gave me a sense of hope and I changed my thinking about my own life and what is possible. So many of us walk around with these invisible internal ‘barriers’ that stop us doing or dreaming of possibilities.

When I grew up, travel overseas was only for the rich and even though I dreamed of one day seeing the Colosseum and Rome for real, there was a part of me that wasn’t sure I would ever do that. I felt as though every movie, history book and all I had learnt at school in ancient history class just jumped out of the pages and screen and into my reality!

Now, I have had the privilege of going to Rome and Italy many times now and every time I go I discover something new to feed my passion and love of this amazing city. Such as the 17kms of catacombs that run under the city to explore, artworks scattered all over the city in churches from the best historic artists in the world that you can wander in and see for free, characteristic proud people who are intensely proud to be Roman. You can just sit in the piazza sipping a wine whilst people watching, revelling in the great shopping and unique gastronomic delights that have a history all to themselves!

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Gili Trawangan

The Gili Islands are located off the coast of Bali, Indonesia. Gili Trawangan is an ‘idyllic’ picturesque remote island paradise that is the Bali of old. I spent a week on this tiny 8km wide island at a time when I needed to reflect on where my life was going. I swam in the crystal blue waters, read books and relaxed in a beautiful bungalow 100 metres from my beach chair.

Vermont, USA

I was 17 and went to live with my sister in the United States in a small mountain town called Bolton Valley , Vermont on the east coast just below Montreal.

I lived there for over a year. Living on the top of tiny mountain and in country America was an incredible culture shock for me at that age. The experience instilled the love of travel and other cultures in me. It also helped me understand that travel and immersing yourself in other cultures in not easy AND it will change you!

Bellingen Valley NSW, Australia

The valley runs from the beach to the edge of the Dorrigo mountains in the mid-north coast of NSW. Small villages such as Mylestom, Valla Beach and Bellingen wind along the Kalang and Bellingen rivers to meet the sea. This valley is home to me after spending 17 years living there bringing up my family. This area is exactly half way between Brisbane and Sydney and is just as beautiful as more famous places like Byron Bay. If you want to go off the beaten tourist track, make sure you visit the Bellinger Valley, and the towns of Bellingen, Dorrigo and Valla.

Sicily - Taormina and Giardini Naxos

If you love places that are crazy and at the same time breathtakingly beautiful, this part of Sicily is for you! Taormina is well known for being the most famous resort town and breathtaking place in Sicily. Discover the fabulous stories of Sicilian people whilst enjoying the ‘bella vista’ of Mount Etna and the Ionian Sea that provide the cinema-worthy backdrop for Taormina. Twisting mediaeval streets and a second-century Greek theatre add to its romantic air.

Just beside Taormina, is the small seaside town of Giardini Naxos where you will can experience how the locals enjoy life on the beach. Whilst not as glamorous or expensive as Taormina, Giardini Naxos is certainly just as interesting and right on the beach front. This is the birthplace of my husband and even though he has spent much of his life elsewhere in the world, Giardini and Taormina are home to us as much as Australia. We return here every European summer to be with family, finish renovating the old family home into apartments and run our small boutique tour business. Oh and of course to enjoy the beach life.

Ceramic murals in Giardini

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Our company is owner operated by Nino and Catherine Santoro who both have their own successful careers involving travel and people-centered work.  Nino and Catherine love to travel and love their countries of residence, Australia and Italy.  Their travel experience and adventures over the years led to many people saying ‘Take us with you next year please!’ they did! 


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