Scottish-born, half Irish and half Italian, Tricia Brady has lived and guided tours in Italy for much of her life. The first time she encountered Rick Steves' Village Italy tour, she fell head over heels for it. You might say she lives that tour, as her home today is an old farmhouse she's restored in the northern Italian countryside.
Tell us about your farmhouse renovation. Was it an "Under the Tuscan Sun" experience?
"You are buying that pile of stones?" were my darling Mum's words on seeing the farmhouse ruin I was buying in Le Marche. But after a year of hard work my wonderful workers had turned it into my lovely home, and today it's my pride and joy. There were good, bad and horrific days, but it was worth it in the end. Recently that "pile of stones" has been featured in a home magazine.
Over the past five years, you've worked as a guide on many of Rick Steves' Italy tour itineraries. Do you have a favorite?
Rick's Rome city tour was my first. With seven days to explore the eternal city it was a joy to introduce my tour members to so many great sights. But in all my 29 years of touring in Italy, I have never known a tour like Village Italy. It gives the traveler a total experience of the country. This is the tour to top all tours — truly a dream come true!
Do you have a favorite place to take your groups in Italy?
It is very difficult to choose one place, as they all have something different to offer and experience. The welcome is warm wherever we go. Often the whole family will greet us on arrival. Italian life is still very much centered around the family unit, which is one of the great charms here.
You've led tours in Italy for other tour companies before. Can you tell us how Rick Steves' tours are different?
I don't believe there is any other tour company — in the world — which is so dedicated to the needs of their customers to the extent of bringing 70 European guides halfway across the world each year to talk with and review their tours with Rick and the staff in Edmonds. I am astounded at the personal touch and the great attention to detail. The organization is like a big family — and for me this is very Italian! It makes me feel very much at home, and proud to be a part of such a fine company.