How To Plan Your Italy Getaway

The Female Guide to Your Ultimate Vacation


Carmen Darwin



“I think for me the best memories I have are of the friendship shared. The laughing, celebration of birthdays, amazing dinners, deliciously different wine the friendships enriched, renewed and discovered, the caring of others, and the caring we had to do for ourselves. It’s hard sometimes to stop in your busy lifetime to be you again. To be just you, nobody’s wife, mother, employee, or boss, gave a sense of freedom, this itself was a really thrilling experience, and I think we don’t get to do very often .

We didn’t have to think about cooking, washing, meetings, school pick up, and to be away with a group of women was a great privilege.

As far as the trip, I loved Florence, every corner was a wow moment. The buildings, people, art, architecture, culture, did I say, the people? I loved everything about Florence.

The places we visited were spot on for me, the tour guides were such a great addition and gave such a personal insight to the places we visited, especially the artisan tour. The accommodation was also great in beautiful locations and very comfortable beds. Finally, did I mention the highlight was the friendship of women.”

Michelle Smith - Brisbane Australia

“Wow, where to start? I absolutely loved the tour! I’ve just re-read your dream “to create something unique and special for women, in a context of friendship and sisterhood”. Well, in my opinion, you nailed it!

As you know I travelled from Australia solo. There are many highlights. However, if I can only choose one, it would be the company of the lovely women on the tour (including yourself Carmen) who all shared the same passion for travelling to Italy on an adventure. Despite our varying knowledge of art, architecture, food and wine choices, the language, our health all being so diverse, we shared laughter and happiness together every day. It has been wonderful to be home and continue the contact with new friends and it is hopefully just the beginning of long lasting friendships.

The guided tours you organised Carmen deserve a special mention too. The guides themselves were delightful. I personally enjoyed the tours to the private studios to see first hand some extremely talented artists (and I’m not even an artist) however it was very personal and unforgettable. Having a chauffeur through Tuscany, again, brilliant. I felt like I was in a movie set so much of the day.

Leaving a family behind to go and travel is not easy for any mother. However, my husband, my teenage son and daughter are proud of me for going and doing something for myself. I didn’t expect that. They gained independence and faced some of their biggest fears like ‘separation anxiety’ and became more resilient knowing that mum can go away alone and she comes back happier and healthier than when she left. How good is that!”

Sarah Byrne - Bowral, Australia

“I can’t thank you enough for organising the trip of a lifetime for me to Italy. You put so much thought and research into the trip and we did some wonderful things that I would never have thought to do, like the wonderful wine tasting lunch in Florence, the visit to the winery in the Tuscan region, visiting the artists in Florence and our many fantastic dinners and lunches throughout the holiday.

The apartments we stayed in were stunning and I have stayed in a lot of 5-star places in my life and they were by far my favourite digs.

It was just a groups of girls having a great time together and sharing a lot of laughter and making memories. I have made friends for life and can’t wait to do it again with you.

Carmen Mearns – Sydney,  Australia

Italy, my happy place. Whether it be in a historical city, a quaint village on the water or in the rolling countryside, you will see beauty in everything around you. Not to mention the food, wine and accommodation. This was an amazing trip made even more special with the friendships that evolved. I loved it!

Sharon Gee - Brisbane Australia

Did you have any hesitations about purchasing Carmen’s tour?

Initially, I did, only because I thought it was a lot of money to spend on myself and also the fact I was concerned about not being close by for my Mum. I had thought I would do the Tuscany tour and that Al would possibly meet me after but that wasn’t to be so considered it was a long way to go for 10 days so then decided to partake in the Italian Riviera leg.  

What changes did you see within yourself on the tour?

I learnt to just enjoy the time away and let go of worrying too much about others at home, in the knowledge that all would be well.

What specific things did you like best about Carmen’s Tour?

I thoroughly enjoyed time out with other women and just being in the present.  We all got on so well and there were so many laughs.

Would you recommend Carmen’s tour? Why or why not?

Yes, I would, you had planned and co-ordinated this tour so well and your wealth of knowledge and experience in regards to Italy made it so easy for those of us who had never been to this part of the world.

Is there anything else you’d like to add?

Just to say that you are a very caring person & I appreciate all the effort & preparation you made to ensure this holiday became a reality for the likes of myself.  I will cherish the memories Carmen….so thank you.

Michelle Cross - Maleny, Australia

I definitely had no hesitations in purchasing a Design & Lifestyle Tour. Carmen made me feel at ease from the very start and she was helpful in every way. Any questions I had were answered very promptly and with a lot of knowledge. The inclusions which were offered on this tour made the decision very easy.

It was a great opportunity to spend some quality time with other like minded ladies who enjoy travel and meeting new friends. It was so easy being “myself” and being accepted from the start. I had to pinch myself “several times” and kept telling myself it was great to be alive and to have this fabulous opportunity to be able to discover Italy with Carmen’s tours.

The organisation and Carmen’s attention to detail, but relaxed approach made these tours run to plan. Everything was very well organised, from our train travel, dinner reservations and not to mention our “Drop Dead Gorgeous” luxury accommodation which I can only imagine it would have taken Carmen months to source. I was not disappointed at all and with this said, I would not hesitate to take another one of her Tours in the near future.

I would definitely and with no hesitation recommend any one of Carmen’s Tours, as it’s a great opportunity for the “sisterhood” and a “once in a lifetime” adventure for the soul!

Carmen puts her heart and soul into creating these tours, making it a very memorable experience for me which I will always treasure and never forget.

Until next time Italy,


Diane - Brisbane Australia