It was post-graduation, a time of new beginnings, and Tuscany beckoned. So what better way to celebrate than with an Italian adventure? Good friends, amazing food, a fabulous place to stay—it would be a perfect storm of divertimento. Best of all, not one of these readyto- party travelers had to ask Mom for permission because… well, because they ARE the Moms.

When her younger son graduated from Chaminade last spring, Natalie McAvoy realized that she and several of her friends (mostly Chaminade moms) would be emptynesters when their kids headed off to college. She also knew her friend of 30 years, Carol Firenze (author of The Passionate Olive) hosted Olive Harvest Adventures at an ancient Umbrian olive grove in the fall. And that’s when the planning began.

“They wanted to do something special for themselves, and they wanted to have a ball!” Firenze says. After talking to McAvoy and learning about the group, Firenze tailored the trip with special details. “Of course, there were trips to the olive groves and the wineries, but we also spent a day in Florence, because I knew these girls would want to go shopping!”

After a day of Italian adventures, escorted by their driver, Guido, the ladies retreated to Villa Gioianna, a private villa near Castiglione del Lago, Umbria. The eight-bedroom villa got rave reviews. “It was gorgeous!” says Susan Kerth, whose son Danny was Chaminade class of 2011. “At night you could see the twinkling lights of Cretona in the distance. The villa had an enormous stone fireplace, and the tiled kitchen was amazing, with a beamed ceiling and Italian tile.” The kitchen included an authentic Italian cook, Kerth adds. “Rosanna was something—especially when she rolled out her tagliatelle by hand.”

Amazing culinary experiences were plentiful, but Kerth and McAvoy agree that one treat was especially enchanting. “The first night, we had bruschetta that was rubbed with garlic and brushed with olive oil,” McAvoy says. “The olive oil had been olives that very morning. It was incredible!”

A cook, a driver, a villa and 10 good friends—could there be better ingredients for a great time? Kerth summed it up best: “There is nothing like a girls’ trip!”