The Italian Concierge
“In Italy, Leave no road untraveled.”
In the mid 90’s, at the onset of the internet, and the proliferation of home computers, and cell phones invading the space in our lives, that a quirk of fate changed my direction, and I became a tour manager and guide for American travel companies providing walking and hiking vacations throughout Italy. Prior to 9/11, it was not unusual to have large groups of travelers numbering 20-28 on walking tours all over Italy, but this would soon change.
As a guide, often, we had only two hours between trips in Firenze, just enough time to drop one group and run to pick up picnic supplies near Porta Romana in Firenze, and then meet the next group, and off we would go into the countryside of Toscana once again walking the same trails and repeating the entire experience. The hotel owners, the drivers, the historic guides became our friends, as we would see them time and again during travel season. This experience we repeated in Sicily, the Cinque Terre, The Lake Region, the Amalfi Coast and Puglia and wherever else our assignments took us. The job of tour manager was fun, exciting, rewarding, and low paying. There was so much to learn about Italy. During down time between trips, I would select a place to stay Panarea for two months, Palermo for a month, Roma for a few weeks, etc., and go and meet the next group.
While my Italian improved with every bite of pasta and sip of Nero d’Troia, Sciacchetra` or Friuliano, it was during this decade that I worked for a succession of travel companies; Country Walkers, Wilderness Travel, Smithsonian Study Tours (later Smithsonian Journeys) REI, Cucina Italiana, The Cooking School of Aspen. Eventually, after escorting one hundred and fifty +/- more tours, I decided to form Joyce Falcone-The Italian Concierge.
Joyce’s Black Book has been 26+ years in the making. Started in a Filofax and directed by a few worn out Michelin spiral bound maps on my lap as I drove, eventually these notes migrated to Apple Time Machine, and have become a cherished resource of favorite hotels, preferred spots, scenic driving routes, walking trails, and dining venues.
As a follower of Slow Food’s philosophy, and founder of Slow Food Roaring Fork – Aspen, Colorado Convivium of “Foodies” in the 90’s, I continue to this day to follow the snail, and still enjoy combining that with a hike Italy.
I am very thankful to have found what some call a “dream job” inspired by the beauty and bounty of Italy which enabled me to utilize a mixture of curiosity, fearlessness and a special gift of a keen sense of direction. Though my birth rite gave me the possibility of Italian Citizenship, University of Colorado taught me the Italian language, and GrandaMa instructed me how to make ravioli by hand at age 5, it was not until spending decades there, that I better understand the culture that calls the Italian peninsula home.
I consider myself an Italy specialist. I did not learn from a book, I learned by traveling the country and experiencing it firsthand. It is my belief, that one cannot truly be a specialist if one has not experienced the hotels, seen the sites, and struggled with logistics time and again. In Italian it is said: “Ci vuole tempo”- It takes time.
I now have culled lists of “the best of the best”, and it is this information that I personally share with my clients. I can give you an honest testimony because I have recently been there.
As a recent addition to her broad knowledge. of Italy, in 2020 Joyce was certified as an Italian Wine Scholar ( IWS) from The Wine Scholar Guild, based in Washington DC. The Italian Wine Scholar class covered all the 77 DOCG wines and 330 DOCs produced in Italy.
At present she is studying to take the Vinitaly International Wine Ambassador Certification exam. Vinitaly based in Verona seeks to promote the diversity of Italian wines through education around the world. Upon completion, she will receive the IWA, Italian Wine ambassador certification. The course will be completed by June 1, 2021. Stay tuned.
I live in Florence, and graduated in Italian History at the University of Florence. My thesis was dedicated to the Medici family, with a focus on the Grand Duchess Christine of Lorraine.
I have worked for 19 years as a museum educator in Palazzo Vecchio and am a research historian, and a licensed National Tour Guide providing visitors assistance, to art works, museums, archeological sites, and galleries escorting groups in Italian, English and French.
I am also a licensed National Tour Guide and provide visitors assistance, to art works, museums, archeological sites, and galleries escorting groups in Italian, English and French.
IN 2021, I began to collaborate with The Italian Concierge and act as client & vendor liaison, and travel designer for custom itineraries for our clients. I am delighted to be able to share my love of Italian Renaissance history with our guests, and to help enrich their experience and understanding of Italian and Tuscan Art and Culture
Emma Boushie is our Operations Manager for Travel Planning. She joined the Italian Concierge Team in January 2017. Coming from a small town in New Jersey, she was riveted by all the new information she was learning about Italy.
Emma graduated from the Haslam Business School at the University of Tennessee in 2019, and has merged her knowledge from her studies into her work with the Italian Concierge.
In her past trips to Italy, she has visited Rome, Florence, Chianti, Val d’Orcia, Siena, Lucca, Venice, Milan, and many cities in between. Emma’s fascinated with how each city can differ from one another, even if only a few miles apart. Emma is extremely detail oriented and is responsible for overseeing all client itineraries, as well as creating the final AXUS itineraries.
Joann was born in New York City and graduated from NYU with a teaching degree. In 1988 Joann moved to the countryside of Lucca, and purchased an old farm house.
It was during this time that Joann began her 30 year career in travel. Initially Joann was a tour manager for groups on bus tours throughout the major cities and sites in Europe, and eventually Joann continued her passion of exploration of Italy on foot, and became a licensed “Guida Ambientale” specializing in small group hiking tours working as a tour leader for US companies.
Joann is still actively hiking three seasons and also acts as travel designer at The Italian Concierge. She brings her vast knowledge of Italy garnered from years of experience to her tour designs and enjoys sharing this information with our clientele.