If you’ve had enough snow and cold for awhile, maybe it’s time to daydream a little and plan a trip to some place amazing.

A few of us went to Umbria/Tuscany last fall, an amazing and beautiful place, filled with history, culture, olive groves, vineyards, fantastic food and friendly welcoming people. While there we were fortunate to meet Nedra Bottieri, owner of Village Vacations in Italy. Nedra kindly shared her time with us, taking us to some beautiful little towns in the area, providing guidance and information about each spot we visited. Nedra always seemed to know the best restaurants, where the best shopping was and how to find our way around.

Nedra grew up in Florida, married, and had a child there. Following the loss of her husband, she became a flight attendant for a major US airline and has spent the past 28 years flying the world.

In 2002, she decided to reconnect with her Italian roots by learning the language, attending a course at the Universita Per Stranieri in Perugia. While there, she reunited with family living close by, and soon found herself returning to the region over and over again, whenever she had time off.

The more she saw the more she fell in love with the beauty and culture of Umbria and Tuscany, eventually deciding to work towards living in Italy full time. Today, she divides her time between work in the US, visiting grand-kids in Florida and creating a new business and life in Italy.

We thought our readers might be interested in Nedra’s services and recommendations in case anyone is dreaming of an Italian vacation and needs some reliable advice, so we thought we’d ask a few questions about what the area offers and her services.

Q. Italy has so many amazing cities and places to visit. Why did you pick Umbria and Tuscany to live and work in?

A. I just love the variety of fascinating towns and cultures in the area. Umbria and Tuscany are so beautiful. Every town has its own unique character and history, incredible food, and fantastic wine everywhere. The big cities in Italy are also wonderful, but for a unique vacation there’s nothing like staying in a small village in Umbria and Tuscany and living like a local.

Q. What services are you offering to travellers?

A. I want you to experience Italy the way I do.  My goal is to help visitors enjoy all the wonderful things that Umbria and Tuscany have to offer. I arrange transportation and accommodations – I have access to a villa with its own olive grove and vineyard or can find you a cottage, house or apartment in a village. I’m happy to personally tour guests to whatever is of most interest to them or provide recommendations and tips so they can tour themselves with their own customized plan.

Q. How did you get started doing this?

A. I was helping out some friends who own a real estate company near Perugia, matching them with tourists who were looking for accommodations. One group I booked asked if I could also take them around and show them the sites. I found myself really enjoying introducing people to the area and meeting so many interesting visitors from all over the world. It’s an ideal combination of being in the region I love and helping visitors see the beauty and variety of what Umbria and Tuscany offers.

Q. What kind of tours have you offered so far?

A. I’ve done all sorts of tours. I can arrange for almost anything from 1-16 people. Some people like vineyard or foodie tours, others are interested in “Girlfriend Get-A Ways” with shopping ( amazing leather and cashmere in many of these towns), or spa days, cooking lessons, while others enjoy history and visiting medieval towns that haven’t changed much in centuries. I also arrange Yoga Retreats, a Week long Write Away course where you let your creativity flourish with the instruction of Karen Dawson, a Weave Your Way Tour, which is a hit for weavers and Olive Harvest Tours in the fall where you actually get to pick the olives and then see the process of how olive oil is made. There is so much to see and do! I can create a tour to your hearts desire.

Q. Do you have any tips for travellers to Italy?

A. Don’t pack too much! Mix and match and change the look with scarfs. Comfortable walking shoes a must! We all seem to over pack and then it’s hard to find space for the things you buy to take back home! One important tip for any travel is to keep a copy of your passport – maybe in your luggage and one copy in your purse. Always a good thing to do no matter where you travel!

If you’d like to contact Nedra about your own trip, check out her website or send her an email for more details.