November 2012

Post image for Sleep Here: Casa Talia is Stylish Sicily

Hotel: Casa Talia

Where: Sicily, Southern Italy (Modica is near Noto and Ragusa.)

Highlights: Small bed & breakfast // Independent units with private terraces // Ample outdoor space with gardens and hammocks // Breakfast served outdoors under the olive tree // Views of the historical city // Local materials: stone walls, lime plaster, cane roofs and tiled floors renovated by the owners/architects

Surroundings: Casa Talia is Stylish Sicily. It’s located in the mountain town of Modica on the Island of Sicily. The town is a UNESCO Heritage Site and is located at the south of the island close to the sea. The surrounding countryside is characterized by stone walls, olive trees, almond trees and carobs. The nearby harbour of Pozzallo has a hydrofoil that will take you to Malta.

We bring our Sicily Tour clients here each year and loooove it. You’ll cry at the breakfast garden. So stunning.

Rates: Doubles from 150 Euro.

Check out our Sicily tour and we’ll make your vacation in Sicily magical.  

With love,  Bianca Gignac / Founder

Photo credits top to bottom: Andrea Ferrari, except #3/4 by Simone Aprile, #2 by Matteo Cirenei


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Post image for Behind the Scenes of Your Italian Fix: Day 7

>> This is the last day of a 7 day party delivering a sneak-peek at how getting your Italian Fix is the best thing you can do with your precious vacation time. <<


What is giving?

Is it throwing pocket change at the guy on the street corner?

Is it buying dinner for a friend?

Is it slipping 20 bucks to your kid?

Of course it’s all those things.

But what if giving was something automatic — built right into your lifestyle?

You knew you were gonna make something happen but you didn’t focus on how you were gonna do it.

You said things like:

“This year, no Christmas presents, the gift budget is going to (insert person/country here)”.

“I’m giving 100 bucks to the food bank cause they do good work”.

“I want all the kids at my child’s school to have a healthy snack”.

And so you move forward. You make it happen.

I’m a crazy reader.

I read ninety-nine percent nonfiction. I read mostly about people – what they think, how they do things, how they live. I’m the weirdo who went to the bookstore to buy WordPress Visually so I could figure out how to build this website (I laugh at myself because I didn’t even own my own computer at that point. At times my optimism borders on bizarre).

In my reading, what has inspired me the most is this: EVERYDAY people make something out of nothing. Just from an idea.

Visionaries rock! Instead of saying, “I can’t do this cause I don’t (insert excuse here)” or “I don’t know how to (insert phrase here)” — they say, “There must be a way” or “How can I?”

The best quote I heard over the weekend at a conference in NYC was by Danielle LaPorte: “Choose to be one of the people who pulls it off”.  Ouch! So hot it burns.

Last year, I had an epiphany. I thought: How can I amplify my service to others? How can helping women lead an exceptional life help others in their struggles?  What is IMPORTANT to me? What makes me FEEL good? How can I do greater things?

My definition of greater things (and everyone has their own) is going beyond pure self-interest. Sure, it’s pretty human to have the, “What’s in it for me?” mentality. But the crazy truth is that all our decisions affect others people’s lives — for better or for worse.

And so this inspiration came to me: Bianca – level the playing field. Amplify joy by giving to those who have less.

Thanks brain. That was a good download.

But I had a big problem.

My brain said: “give” and I got in the way. I said: “How? I don’t *come* from money. I never have a big chunk of it. I work, I buy stuff I need, and then it’s usually gone. I don’t have a high paying job – I have no big stash. It’s just pocket change. I suck. I’m out of my element”.

Shit – this whole giving thing is stressing me out!

Then my brain spoke a little louder cause I’m obviously slow on the uptake: “Give through your business. Grow your business and grow your giving”.

Shit – THIS is good brain! Really juicy idea, brain. Brava brain!

And so I started giving through Italian Fix last year.

What does Italian Fix giving look like?

It means that every time you invest in a product or service that my company offers – you are investing in others too.

It means that this season, when you travel to Italy with us, a percentage of your sale goes directly to levelling the playing field of social and economic inequality.

Translation: Your giving is built right into your trip!

Not only do get the most amazing travel experience of your life – you get to GIVE an amazing opportunity to someone else. It’s automatic and you don’t have to do any of the work.

This year (like last year) we’re giving to Kiva.

If you don’t know Kiva then I’m gonna give you the lowdown showdown. Kiva’s vision is this:

We envision a world where all people – even in the most remote areas of the globe – hold the power to create opportunity for themselves and others.

We believe providing safe, affordable access to capital to those in need helps people create better lives for themselves and their families.

What Kiva does is simply turn donations into loans for people.

But these aren’t just any people, they are entrepreneurs, many of them dirt poor (not just I’m-poor-so-I-won’t be-going-out-for-dinner-tonight poor). These people couldn’t normally get a loan, and they have no access to credit or collateral (you can’t charge a credit card if you can’t get one).

I have a big crush on Kiva because I know that 100% of our donations fund microloans, not administration fees and staff salaries.

Also – these are loans peeps! And most of the times – the loans get re-payed – which means you get to RE-GIVE to someone next in line. The money recycles to others and keeps working. How cool is that!

I am really proud of this part of my business and that’s why I wanted to share it with you.

If you want to hear my biggest-deepest secret it’s this: My goal is to give $100,000 in my lifetime to people and organizations who make the world a saner place. I’m gonna do that through the businesses that I create. I’m very excited by my goal and even though I’ve just begun, I know that people have overcome bigger challenges; life is full of success when you set your eye on the target.

I know this isn’t revolutionary – there are tons of people who are being the change they want to see in the world and they have inspired me to do this. I love feeling like I’m part of one tsunami wave of worldwide awareness. I hope you’ll jump on in – cause the water is great!

The last day:

This is the last day of our 7 day party that was born to celebrate the release of our brand new trips to Italy this upcoming season.

Six days into trip sales — the response has been awesome.

We’ve had 200 comments posted in the last 6 days on Italian Fix. We’ve sold trips to people who now have “vacation in Italy” marked on their calendar! How great is that. And we’ve offered great give-aways everyday to anyone who has left us a comment.

I hope that you feel you know me a little more than you did last week. And that I’ve showed you something that you would like to be a part of.

Thank- you to everyone who’s spent time with me in the last week. I’m feeling the love! Grazie infinito.

But there’s one little thing I wanna leave you with:

You HAVE TO make space in your life for things YOU want. You have to prioritize the things YOU need. You have to make your calendar reflect the things that are IMPORTANT to you (it’s not just about obligations).   Only YOU can do this – don’t wait for anyone else to give you permission. If you don’t make a move for yourself and define your own priorities — who will? Only YOU know what is truly right for you.

Free Stuff:

We’re giving away another fab 12 x 16 photo print by Leela Cyd of the Cinque Terre worth $250. Leela will send you your choice of a stunning print of Italy from the photo gallery.

You have until the November 30, 2013 to leave a comment and be entered in the give-away.

In the comments below chat about anything:

What is giving to you? Do you feel like you have something to offer others, financially or otherwise? Does Kiva speak to you? Do you have any suggestions of worthwhile charities or people making a difference?

Thanks for being here. It’s been an incredible week! Big hugs! {Luck + Love, Bianca}

{Giveaway update: Bethany is the recipient of this beautiful print by Leela Cyd}


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Post image for Behind the Scenes of Your Italian Fix: Day 6

>> This is day 6 of a 7 day party delivering a sneak-peek at how getting your Italian Fix is the best thing you can do with your precious vacation time. <<


I want to share with you how brilliant my friend Filippo is.

Filippo is a fashion photographer who lives in Milan.

We connected last winter. It was friend of a friend sort of thing.

When I peeked at his portfolio I understood why he works for all the top names — cause he makes women shine.

Filippo’s schedule is jam packed. Whenever we chat – he’s always working. He travels around the world shooting photos for Giorgio Armani, Burberry, Campari, The New York Times, Vanity Fair, Vogue Italia, Cosmopolitan, The Guardian, Newsweek – you get the picture.

Anyways, I wanna tell you how we started working together.

I believe I posses a strong sense of intuition.

It’s guided me my whole life – and it’s given me the confidence to live an unconventional life that is very “me”. It has let me follow my passions and allowed me to make choices that have made me wildly happy (sure — sometimes it’s not all unicorns and rainbows). But my whole life I’ve done stuff I love. I’ve travelled tons. Went to art school. Lived abroad. Lived in Italy. Married a man who didn’t speak my language. Became a mom.

Now that intuition has led me into building an Italian travel business born from the desire to help others.  And so I lean into it.

So when I met Filippo, I had an intuitive flash: give my guests a once in a lifetime opportunity with an Italian fashion photographer.

And that happened last June.

My vision was for each guest to own a photograph of herself that would symbolize something greater than just another travel shot. It would be a talisman of her strength, her beauty, her resilience and more poignantly, her desire to live a life she loves by embracing new experiences.

I wanted that photograph to also serve as a tool: a head shot for her business. An heirloom for her kid. A print in her home. A memory. Or just some dangerous Facebook fodder.

And so Filippo travelled from Milan to the Cinque Terre for a photo session with each guest; the overgrown flowery stone paths was our backdrop. We had a blast.

Filippo is a sweety.

You might think people who work in fashion all day are hysterical stress bags who might be hard to handle. But it’s not like that at all.

Filippo grew up in a family of all girls and spent a lot of time backstage at his older sister’s dance recitals. He watched them in child-like fascination as they practised, put on costumes, and did their make-up.

Over coffee, Filippo told me that he reveres women; he has a deep love and respect for females. And it makes me understand why I love his photos so much. They are taken in a protected sort of intimate way. His fashion photographs don’t scream sex and glamour. They just speak about life. About the many seconds that make up life. His style is raw and postmodern. And unpretentious. And just freakin’ lovely.

This season Filippo will be photographing you if you join us in Florence + Milan for our dreamy trip. We’re using the Milanese landmark, the gothic cathedral for the backdrop of this shoot, just steps from the hotel. Can you picture yourself there – in your best outfit – being photographed by a Milanese fashion photographer? Pretty crazy, no?

I can’t wait for you to meet him and own a photo of yourself that will serve you in your life; whatever that looks like for you.

See that full itinerary now.

For now, enjoy his beautiful world.


To celebrate the release of our upcoming trips to Italy we are giving away free stuff.

Win it: this map of Italy.

Would this print look pretty at your house? This map was drawn by UK artist Laura Bird for Italian Fix.

Enter the draw by leaving a comment before November 30, 2013.

Chat about anything! What do you think of these photos? Is the idea of a photo shoot in Milan exciting? Freaky? Which elements of the Florence + Milan trip do you like the most?

{Luck + Love, Bianca}

{giveaway update: Marina is the owner of this pretty map of Italy. Thanks to everyone for your thoughtful comments.}

{All images by Filippo Mutani except the first one by Leela Cyd}


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