Alvaro Pisoni, president and founder of Denver-based Pisoni-Ferrari
Tour Co., might be an architect by training, but the Italy he
shares with his clients is as much about contemporary culture as
old, elegant buildings.
"My specialty is showing people the real Italy, which is often
very different from what they expect," Pisoni said.
Despite the popularity of the destination, he said
misconceptions about Italy abound, based in part on popular
"Many people think Italy is a poor country where children run
wild in the streets asking for money," Pisoni said. "This picture
of Italy may have existed for a brief period after World War II,
but, in fact, we are the fifth-largest economy in the world
Noting that his first-time clients are often struck by the
sophistication of the destination upon arrival, he said they also
find the cuisine a surprise.
"Many Americans have a stereotype of Italian food as being a
plate of spaghetti with tomato sauce, so I make sure to take them
to places where they can try the specialties of the region," Pisoni
Also, many people are surprised by how verdant Italy is, he
"People frequently come back raving about how green it is,"
Pisoni designs and accompanies each group tour to dispel these
myths and highlight contemporary Italian lifestyle.
Drawing on his background as an Italian-born-and-trained
architect and politician, he combines educational and cultural
elements into his tours, based on the interests of his clients.
Specifically, he will design an itinerary after receiving a
deposit, which is deducted from the final payment.
Tours are commissionable, and Pisoni is available to meet with
"We can do a slide show, talk about travel tips and generally go
over what they do and don't need," he said.
"Often I'll do three or four meetings before the departure, and
then we will travel together," Pisoni said.
Once in Italy, groups of 30 or more ride in the same private
chartered bus with the same driver from beginning to end, while
small groups travel by van, he said.
"We go to unique places and experience the local culture by
visiting artists' studios, private concerts [in venues such as
Venetian villas] or hike in the Alps," he said.
Admitting that many younger travelers prefer to go it alone,
Pisoni said companies like his can help distinguish which scenic
villages are worth stopping for and which are safe for visitors'
parked cars and belongings.
"In some little towns outside of Naples and even Milan, your car
and luggage could be at risk," he said.
In addition, Pisoni said that driving in Italy can be
challenging, even for the adventurous, particularly in big
"You can't even enter Florence by car unless you know the exact
way to do it, and they are so strict about speeding and parking
that they will tow your car without thinking twice," he said.
Mostly, though, Pisoni said the company strives to come up with
unique destinations and activities that can't be easily duplicated
by self-drive tourists.
"Last year, I arranged a dinner in a windmill in Sicily where
fishermen brought us fresh fish for dinner in their boats and
cooked it in front of us," he said.
"Women in folk costumes came out of the windmill with cocktails
for everyone, and there was a beautiful concert by local
musicians," Pisoni said, adding that the event was privately
arranged just for his group.
In addition to Italy, Pisoni-Ferrari handles travel to France,
Switzerland, Austria and Germany.
For details, call (303) 841-5025 or visit the Web site at www.pisoni.com.